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September 30, 2015

DFS Roundtable: Favorite DraftKings Play for Week 4

Every week this season, our contributors will give their favorite plays for the week in DraftKings contests.

Q: Who is your favorite DraftKings play for Week 4?

Sean Beazley - Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders ($5,300)

There are a bunch of players I like this week. I like Donte Moncrief again despite the news today that Andrew Luck is nursing a shoulder injury. I'm on Martellus Bennett against the Raiders defense that has been dreadful against TEs, and I'll have my fair share of Karlos Williams as well even if LeSean McCoy plays on Sunday.

My favorite pick of the week though is a QB/WR stack and it's coming from a team that hasn't had fantasy relevance in like a decade. That team is the Oakland Raiders. I love Derek Carr at the $5,300 bargain price playing the Bears, who seem like they have already packed it in this season. Carr has had back-to-back 300-yard games and I think he has another one on Sunday. Carr is in play in both GPPs and cash games.

I'll have separate Carr stacks with both Amari Cooper ($6,300) and Michael Crabtree ($4,600). I'll have more exposure to Cooper, who should absolutely eat vs. the Bears on Sunday. Cooper has been targeted 31 times in his first three games, and I expect another 10-12 this week. I think Cooper finds the endzone twice in this one.

Ryan Watterson - James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers ($5,300)

Jones has shown a fantastic chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, which was never more evident than the two offsides that turned into huge plays against KC. It takes strong chemistry to convert those free plays as the WRs essentially improvise their routes and Rodgers needs to know what they are going to do in a split-second decision. The fact that he hit Jones on two such plays for huge gains (and a TD) demonstrates a lot of trust. With Davante Adams reaggravating his ankle, Jones is in line for a lot of work against a Niners secondary that has been awful to this point.

Kevin Hanson - Karlos Williams, RB, Buffalo Bills ($3,400)

For me, this is a fairly easy choice this week. In a secondary role to LeSean McCoy, Williams has been highly productive on a per-touch basis (7.8 YPC) so far this season. The only player to rush for a touchdown in all three games this season, Williams should be in line for a significant workload with McCoy a likely inactive for Week 4. The Giants have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing running backs so far this season. At his price point, Williams should be the highest-owned running back, but he offers tremendous value and flexibility with 46 RBs priced higher.

Dan Yanotchko - Lance Dunbar, RB, Dallas Cowboys ($3,600)

This week I really love the matchup of Lance Dunbar and his 21 receptions, going against the New Orleans Saints. So far, Dunbar has been a PPR monster, and since Brandon Weeden does not throw the ball more than 7 yards downfield, I am looking at a similar day like he had against Atlanta -- 10 receptions for 100 yards. New Orleans also has an awful run defense, giving up 126 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry. I really like the price point of $3,600 for Dunbar given his favorable matchup.

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September 29, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 4 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. We will continue to make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 4 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 4-16):

1. San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers): 17.56
2. Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning): 17.05
3. Tennessee Titans (Marcus Mariota): 16.96
4. New York Jets (Ryan Fitzpatrick): 16.74
5. Detroit Lions (Matthew Stafford): 16.47

Five least favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 4-16):

32. New England Patriots (Tom Brady): 13.51
31. Oakland Raiders (Derek Carr): 13.68
30. Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers): 13.76
29. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen): 14.69
28. Cleveland Browns (Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel): 14.79

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

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2015 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 4 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. We will continue to make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 4 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 4-16):

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Doug Martin, Charles Sims): 19.42
2. Carolina Panthers (Jonathan Stewart): 18.69
3. Green Bay Packers (Eddie Lacy): 18.55
4. New Orleans Saints (Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller): 18.28
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (T.J. Yeldon): 18.02

Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 4-16):

32. Buffalo Bills (LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams): 15.08
31. Dallas Cowboys (Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar): 15.13
30. Cleveland Browns (Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson): 15.19
29. New England Patriots (Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount): 15.22
28. Cincinnati Bengals (Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard): 15.43

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

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2015 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 4 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. We will continue to make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 4 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 4-16):

1. San Diego Chargers (Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson): 24.84
2. Buffalo Bills (Keenan Allen, Percy Harvin): 23.13
3. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders): 22.97
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant): 22.88
5. New York Jets (Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker): 22.59

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 4-16):

32. Green Bay Packers (Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, James Jones): 18.66
31. Indianpolis Colts (T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief): 18.73
30. Oakland Raiders (Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree): 18.96
29. Tennessee Titans (Kendall Wright): 19.80
28. Carolina Panthers (Devin Funchess): 19.90

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

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2015 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 4 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. We will continue to make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 4 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 4-16):

1. New York Jets: 9.43
2. Tennessee Titans (Delanie Walker): 9.12
3. Denver Broncos (Owen Daniels, Virgil Green): 9.01
4. San Diego Chargers (Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green): 8.74
5. Indianapolis Colts (Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener): 8.48

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 4-16):

32. Cleveland Browns (Gary Barnidge, Rob Housler): 5.77
31. St. Louis Rams (Jared Cook): 5.89
30. Seattle Seahawks (Jimmy Graham): 6.00
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (Heath Miller): 6.11
28. Miami Dolphins (Jordan Cameron): 6.38

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

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September 28, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: Some Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 4

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

So, for example, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton won't appear on this list. While he appeared on last week's list and he's still worth adding if available in your league, he's currently owned in 52 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which means he's just outside of our self-imposed ownership cutoff.

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 4 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add within their position group.]

QB - Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (owned in 39 percent of Yahoo! leagues)

First it was Tony Romo, now it's Ben Roethlisberger, but some fantasy owners may need to find their new starting quarterback on the waiver wire due to another multi-week injury of a top quarterback. In addition, Week 4 begins the start of the bye weeks and Tom Brady is one of the two quarterbacks on bye for Week 4.

Fantasy owners should look no further than Taylor, who's available in more than three-fifths of fantasy leagues, if they need help. Through Sunday's games, only four quarterbacks -- Brady, Dalton, Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers -- are averaging more fantasy points per game than Taylor (22.05).

After finishing as the QB14 in Week 1, Taylor has back-to-back top-six finishes. Taylor hasn't thrown more than 30 pass attempts in any game, but he's completing 74.4 percent of his attempts for an average of 9.2 yards per attempt. In addition, he has eight total touchdowns -- seven passing and one rushing -- through three games.

QB - Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (25 percent)

Carr left Week 1 early with an injury, but like Taylor, he has posted strong back-to-back performances. Exceeding 300 passing yards in each of the past two games, Carr has a total of 665 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception against the Ravens and Browns. The Raiders finished fourth in pass attempts last season and should rank near the top of the league in pass attempts again this year, but Carr has better weapons in 2015 led by top-four pick Amari Cooper, who has posted back-to-back 100-yard games.

RB - Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills (26 percent)

In the team's rout over Miami, Williams carried the ball 12 times for 110 yards and a score on Sunday. Through three games, the fifth-round rookie has 24 carries for 186 yards -- 7.8 yards per carry -- and three touchdowns with two catches for 16 yards. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bills may rest LeSean McCoy until his hamstring is healthy, which would make sense given how productive Williams has been. The Bills host the Giants this week.

RB - Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks (three percent)

Williams wasn't the only rookie behind a prominent featured back on the depth chart to rush for 100-plus yards on Sunday. With Marshawn Lynch battling some injuries including a hamstring injury, Rawls gained 104 yards on 16 carries against the Bears with the bulk of those totals coming in the second half. The Seahawks have an extra day of rest this week with a MNF matchup in Week 4, but Lynch owners should handcuff Beast Mode with Rawls.

RB - Lance Dunbar, Dallas Cowboys (17 percent)

Especially for those in PPR leagues, Dunbar has a lot of value given the injuries to Romo and Dez Bryant. Dunbar has just two rush attempts this season, but he led the team in receiving in Week 3 with 10 catches for 100 yards and has 21 catches for 215 yards through three weeks.

RB - Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (34 percent)

It was a disappointing performance for Johnson rushing the ball -- four carries for three yards -- against the Raiders in Week 3. That said, he was finally involved in the passing game as he hauled in six catches for 32 yards. Through three weeks, Johnson's numbers have been less than expected, but he's someone worth stashing as I expect his volume to expand (and production to improve) as the season progresses.

RB - Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (36 percent)

It's been a disappointing start to the season for C.J. Anderson and his fantasy owners. CJA has 32 carries for just 74 yards (2.3 YPC). Hillman hasn't been much better, but he has been better -- 28/88/1 rushing, 3.1 YPC. Given the struggles of Anderson, Hillman could see his role expand.

RB - Bilal Powell, New York Jets (16 percent)

Last week, Powell had 17 touches for 75 yards and he could be in line for a large role depending on Chris Ivory's hamstring. Although Ivory was "active" last week, he didn't see the field, but he is expected to be "good to go" this week against the Dolphins.

RB - Antonio Andrews, Tennessee Titans (one percent)

Andrews led the Titans in rushing Week 3 with 12 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Bishop Sankey had just five carries for 10 yards. The Titans have a Week 4 bye, but it's possible that Andrews continues to get the largest share of the workload in the Titans backfield after the bye.

WR - Rishard Matthews, Miami Dolphins (33 percent)

Against the Bills, Matthews had six catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 10 targets. Not only does he have back-to-back 100-yard games, but Matthews has now scored double-digit fantasy points in all three games this season. On the year, he has 16 catches for 262 yards and three touchdowns. While Jarvis Landry remains the team's top fantasy receiver and DeVante Parker's role will continue to expand, Matthews is worth a look given his chemistry with Ryan Tannehill.

WR - Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (49 percent)

Cooper remains the Raiders clear-cut No. 1 receiver and Crabtree has alternated between modest and outstanding fantasy performances this season. That said, Crabtree now has at least eight targets in all three games this season. With 18 catches for 184 yards and a score, Crabtree is on pace for 96/981/5 in an offense that should rank near the top of the NFL in pass attempts.

WR - Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals (20 percent)

Jones set season highs with five catches on eight targets for 94 yards on Sunday, but he also scored a touchdown for the second straight week. Missing all of the 2014 season, Jones now has 12 touchdowns on 60 receptions over his past 19 games. While Jones remains third, at best, behind A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert in targets, his knack for scoring touchdowns makes him at least worth a spot start as a bye-week replacement.

WR - Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (10 percent)

Hurns had just four targets for a second consecutive game and just two catches in Week 3, but he now has reached 60 receiving yards in all three games this season. Given the likelihood that the Jags will trail often, Hurns should have several productive fantasy performances as the team's No. 2 receiver behind Allen Robinson.

WR - Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee Titans (17 percent)

As noted above, the Titans are on bye in Week 4, but Green-Beckham possesses rare size at receiver and the Titans are using DGB's that size in the red zone. While he only has five targets and three receptions, two of his three catches were touchdowns. The talented rookie had to sit out all of last season after transferring to Missouri, but he was the nation's top high school recruit entering college. His role should continue to expand throughout the season and it wouldn't surprise me if he finished the year with eight to 10 touchdowns.

TE - Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (50 percent)

Through three weeks, Ebron has 13 receptions on 20 targets for 157 yards and two scores. A top-10 selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, the 22-year-old tight end is on pace for 69/837/11. I doubt he finishes with 11 touchdowns, but Ebron should continue to post low-end TE1 type numbers for the rest of the season.

TE - Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (20 percent)

One of the drawbacks to owning Clay is that the Bills low-volume passing offense, but Clay has 12 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns through three games including a 5/81/1 line in Week 3 against his former team. It's unclear if Sammy Watkins will be able to play in Week 4, however, so Clay could see a similar volume of targets this week.

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September 27, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 3 (Hanson)

With our weekly picks, we assign a confidence rating in the form of units.

Through the first two weeks, I have posted a disappointing 2-3-1 record against the spread, but I am positive in units (+3) as the picks that I've had more confidence in have covered.

Compared to last week, I feel much more confident in the plays that I have selected.

With that said, here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 3 of the 2015 NFL season:

Indianapolis Colts -3.5 over Tennessee Titans (4 units)

Going into the season, the line for this game was likely much higher than 3.5. Since the start of the season, however, the Titans have looked better than expected, and the Colts have looked worse, a lot worse, than expected.

There are some major concerns around Andrew Luck. Of course, Luck himself needs to cut down on turnovers -- no quarterback has more since the start of 2014 -- but the offensive line needs to do a better job with protection and the veteran free-agent additions -- Frank Gore and Andre Johnson -- have looked old.

With all of that said, Luck and the Colts have dominated the AFC South. Over their past 13 division games, the Colts are 12-0-1 against the spread. Also working in the Colts' favor, Indianapolis is 17-2 ATS following a loss (although the second of the "2" was their loss last week to the Jets) and Tennessee has covered only one of their past 14 home games.

I expect the Colts to look much more like the Colts that we expected to see this week and win this game comfortably.

Arizona Cardinals -6.5 over San Francisco 49ers (3 units)

Quick question: Which team leads the NFL in scoring?

Of course, the obvious answer (if you didn't already know) is Arizona. (Why else would I ask that specific question here, right?) Through two games, no team has averaged more points per game than the Cardinals (39.5/G).

We've seen how much the Cardinals offense struggles without Carson Palmer, but Palmer has now won eight consecutive starts. In addition, Palmer has multiple touchdown passes in eight of his past nine games. During that nine-game span, Palmer has posted a 20:5 TD-to-INT ratio and averaged 8.21 Y/A with a passer rating of 99.9.

The Cardinals are 19-7 ATS in their past 26 games and 7-1 ATS in their past eight home games. Meanwhile, the 49ers are 1-6-1 ATS in their past eight games.

Seattle Seahawks -15 over Chicago Bears (3 units)

In the NFL, a 15-point spread is huge. Of course. That said, it wouldn't surprise me if the Seahawks beat the Bears by 30 on Sunday.

After back-to-back road losses, the Seahawks return to CenturyLink Field to take out their frustrations on the injury-plagued Bears. Chicago will be without quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Alshon Jeffrey while running back Matt Forte is listed as questionable. It's certainly possible that the Seahawks get out to a sizable lead early and the Bears shut down Forte in the second half, making it more difficult to mount a comeback or to pull off a back-door cover.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks have posted a 14-3-1 ATS record following back-to-back losses. On the other hand, the Bears have only covered 11 of their past 34 games.

This game should be lopsided and perhaps unwatchable (unless you have the 'Hawks to cover).

Denver Broncos -3.5 over Detroit Lions (1 unit)

Compared to how they have played so far this season, the Broncos are fortunate to be 2-0 heading into Week 3. But as Bill Parcells would say, you are what your record says you are.

To be more precise, however, the Broncos defense has looked great; their offense not so much.

On defense, no team has allowed fewer yards than the Broncos (243.5) this season and their pass defense has limited the opposition to only 133.5 passing yards per game with no touchdowns allowed and four passes intercepted. With Matthew Stafford at less than 100 percent, it could be a long day for Detroit's passing offense.

On the other hand, the Lions pass defense hasn't been nearly as stingy. No team has allowed their opponents to complete a higher percentage of pass attempts than the Lions (81.4 percent). There are concerns with the Broncos ability to protect Peyton Manning, who has been sacked seven times through two games, but Manning is 8-4 ATS off a Thursday Night Football game.

With a little extra time to prepare, I like the Broncos to look better on both offense and defense this week and improve to 3-0 with a more convincing victory.

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 3 (Yanotchko)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 3 of the 2015 NFL season:

Seattle Seahawks -15 over Chicago Bears (3 units)

I am usually not the type of person to lay the points with such a big number, but this battle of the 0-2 teams has Seattle needing a win in the worst way and they will pull out all the stops. While John Fox is a great coach, the Bears just simply have way too many obstacles to overcome here, as they will be missing Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffrey, and Kevin White as well.

The Seahawks will be opening at home for the first time this year, and I expect a huge day from Marshawn Lynch, as the Bears have allowed 124 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry on the ground this year. I think this game is a must need for Seattle, and they rarely lose at home, and there is no way Jimmy Claussen is going in there and putting up more than 10 points.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +6.5 over Houston Texans (3 units)

Well the best news for Houston is that they have finally installed field turf at their home stadium, rather than that horrendous grass field that always tore up and blew out ACLs. Houston looks like they have finally settled on Ryan Mallett as their starting quarterback, but he will still be without star running back Arian Foster, and his No. 1 target DeAndre Hopkins still needs to be cleared from his concussion.

The Buccaneers have made a good showing so far by going 1-1, and beating the Saints in New Orleans last week. I think the Bucs will grind the clock in this game, and even though the Texans have a great front-seven with J.J. Watt, Vince Wilfork, Jadeveon Clowney and Brian Cushing, they still have given up 134 rushing yards per game and 4.1 yards per carry. I think Doug Martin has a huge day, and worst case Jameis Winston has Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans to pull the back-door cover. I will gladly take the 6.5 points.

Atlanta Falcons -1.5 over Dallas Cowboys (3 units)

The Cowboys just haven't had any luck yet this year, but they are still an all important 2-0. The Falcons have been a little bit lucky so far this year, but the Matt Ryan and Julio Jones combination has been must-see highlight reels. The Falcons have a rebuilt defense with Dan Quinn, who was the former Seattle defensive coordinatior, and he has solidified a rush defense that only gives up 80 yards per game so far. This is where the Falcons will win the day, as they will force Brandon Weeden to beat them with his arm. The Cowboys just have too many missing pieces, and I don't think they have the horses to keep this one close.

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 3 (Trifone)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 3 of the 2015 NFL season:

Indianapolis Colts -3.5 over Tennessee Titans (4 units)

So if you haven't started fading my picks yet, you probably should start after my 1-5 start to the year. That said, I'm going to proceed to tell you why the Colts are gong to cover this week. I don't usually like small road favorites, but after an 0-2 start, Indianapolis needs to get a win. I like Andrew Luck to have his first big game of the year and I expect to see a lot of offense.

While they may not have been the second best team in the AFC last year, they still made the Conference Finals last year and have gone progressively farther in each season since drafting Luck. Historically, the Colts have owned the division since he came into the league. I like the Colts to win this one and I'll give the points.

Seattle Seahawks -15 over Chicago Bears (4 units)

In sticking with the theme, I also hate giving a lot of points in a league with so much parity. This happens to be the perfect storm of a game that i expect to look something like a 38-0 type game.

The Seahawks are the toughest team to play at home with their infamous 12th man advantage. They're also off to an 0-2 start, so they will be in desperate need of a win. They're getting Kam Chancellor back, who will be looking to make sure his presence is felt.

In addition, the Bears are an absolute mess. Jay Cutler is out, and just about everyone of any impact on the offensive side is questionable to even play or out (Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffrey, etc.). I wouldn't be surprised to see multiple turnovers for the Bears in a game that shouldn't be close. Seattle wins big.

Minnesota Vikings -1 over San Diego Chargers (3 units)

The Vikings were a huge disappointment Week 1 on Monday Night against San Francisco. They played much better last week and got their first win of the year. I like Adrian Peterson to get his first and possibly second touchdown of the season and I like the Vikings in a close one here. The Chargers have a pretty dangerous receiving corps, but they may be missing Ladarius Green, and I like the Viking defense to have a strong showing. Vikings in a 28-23ish game.

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September 26, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 3 (Beazley)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 3 of the 2015 NFL season:

Indianapolis Colts -3.5 over Tennessee Titans (5 units)
Colts at Titans -- Over 46.5 (2 units)

Andrew Luck faced the two toughest defenses he will face all season in Weeks 1 and 2. The Titans did a fairly good job vs. Johnny Manziel and the Browns last week. A couple of broken plays and a poor pass rush led to two Travis Benjamin bomb TDs.

As bad as the Colts have looked, with a win this week they will be in first place in the AFC South as I expect Jacksonville and Houston to also lose on Sunday. If you're a DFS player, then this is a game you need to target. I expect Luck to come out firing and think he definitely finishes in the top-three of QB scoring this week. I love Donte Moncrief, T.Y. Hilton, and Colby Fleener this week.

The Titans should be able to move the ball vs. the Colts defense as well. Delanie Walker returns from injury this week, which should help Marcus Mariota and the passing game. Colts shutdown corner Vontae Davis doesn't usually line up covering a slot wide receiver so I think Kendall Wright will have a nice day. As a Titans fan, I would love a win here, but the Colts own them. Luck rebounds in a big win, 41-26.

Baltimore Ravens -2.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (3 units)

The Ravens are better than their record indicates. The Ravens have played two consecutive games on the road to open the season, and looked pretty bad in each game. On the other hand, the Bengals looked pretty good in each of their wins. Andy Dalton historically has a pretty tough time with the Ravens, and I believe he will have a few turnovers in this one. I think Joe Flacco connects with big tight end Crocket Gillmore on two scores, and the Bengals struggle on offense. Ravens, 23-13.

New England Patriots -14 over Jacksonville Jaguars (4 units)
Jaguars at Patriots -- Over 48.5 (2 units)

I honestly believe that Tom Brady and the Patriots offense could make history this year. Individual passing record for yards and TDs could fall, and total team points. This team isn't as good as their perfect regular season team from a few years back, but Brady and the Patriots have a chip on their shoulder.

Unlike many teams, the Patriots don't take their foot off their opponent's throat when they are ahead so I have little worries about a back-door cover. The Jags did beat Miami last week, but this is a whole another ball game. I think the Patriots get in the end zone six times vs the Jags. (Rob Gronkowski 2, LeGarrette Blount 2, Aaron Dobson 1 and the defense 1). Patriots win big, 51-20.

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Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em - Week 3

Ultimately, the decision of which player to start is largely determined by the composition of your roster (as well as your league's settings).

As an example, Carson Palmer is listed below as a "start" for Week 3. And I'd feel very comfortable going into Week 3 with him as my starting quarterback.

That said, he may be a sit for your team.

In other words, if you owned both Aaron Rodgers and Palmer, you should start Rodgers -- and in turn, bench Palmer.

So while you won't find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my fantasy football rankings for that instead), the goal here is to highlight some players that I like (and would feel comfortable starting) as well as some players that I dislike for this week (and would prefer to keep on my bench).

Looking ahead to this weekend's games, here are some players to potentially start in Week 3:

QB - Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SF)

Through two games, only Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger have scored more fantasy points than Palmer. In those games, Palmer has thrown for 492 yards and seven touchdowns with only one interception. Over his past nine games, Palmer has now thrown multiple touchdowns in eight of those games. Not only do the Cardinals lead the NFL in scoring (39.5 points per game), they are projected to be one of the highest-scoring teams in Week 3 based on Vegas odds.

QB - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (at BAL)

With the team's top-three pass-catchers all sidelined for multiple games last season, Dalton had a disappointing year as he finished as fantasy's QB18. Before 2014, however, Dalton had posted back-to-back top-12 seasons (QB12 in 2012 and QB5 in 2013). With the breakout of tight end Tyler Eifert and healthy receivers, Dalton is off to a strong start (QB7) in 2015 -- 68.3 completion percentage, 8.1 Y/A and five-to-zero TD-to-INT ratio.

RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (at CLE)

One week after ranking last in the NFL in rushing defense, the Browns once again rank at the bottom of the league in that category, allowing 160.0 rushing yards per game this season. Through two games, Murray has 36 touches including 10 receptions for a total of 167 yards and a score and he has racked up the 11th-most fantasy points among running backs in standard-scoring leagues. While you likely drafted Murray to be your RB2 (or maybe even flex), he is ranked inside my top-six fantasy running backs for the week.

RB - Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (at TEN)

Despite the transition to what should be a more explosive offense, it's been a brutal start for Gore -- and the Colts. Averaging just 3.8 yards per carry, Gore has 23 carries for 88 yards with three receptions for four yards and no touchdowns. After facing stout (run) defenses in back-to-back weeks, Gore and the Colts get a more favorable matchup against the Titans.

RB - Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys (vs. ATL)

Not only are the Cowboys without Dez Bryant and Tony Romo, but Jason Witten is battling an assortment of injuries even though I expect Witten to play. That said, I'd expect a conservative offensive game plan from the Cowboys. While Randle is averaging a modest 3.4 YPC, he is averaging 19.0 touches per game and no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs in this young season than the Falcons.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (vs. OAK)

While the Falcons have surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, Oakland has given up the second most this season. After a disappointing Week 1 performance against the stingy Jets defense, Crowell had a stronger performance against the Titans -- 15 carries for 72 yards (4.8 YPC) and a touchdown. With another favorable matchup this week, Crowell is inside my top-20 fantasy running backs for the week.

WR - Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at HOU)

Over the past 35 seasons, only three rookies -- Randy Moss (1998), Odell Beckham (2014) and Evans (2014) -- have exceeded 1,000 receiving yards with 12-plus touchdowns. Expectations were high going into his age-21 season, but a hamstring injury sidelined Evans in Week 1 and kept him on a snap count in Week 2. The good news is that Evans has stated that his snap count will be lifted for Week 3 in a game where the Bucs are TD underdogs, which should lead to more pass attempts this week. Perhaps I'm a week early as he returns to health, I expect a big week from Evans after last week's goose egg.

WR - Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (vs. JAX)

Coincidentally, Edelman has exactly 11 catches and 97 yards in each of his first two games of the season although he scored twice in Week 2. In fact, Edelman has an NFL-high 31 targets this season and he's currently fifth among receivers in fantasy points scored. Considering the Pats are two-TD favorites this week, Edelman may not see 19 targets (like last week), but there is a strong chance that he once again finishes as a top-12 fantasy receiver.

WR - Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (at NE)

In his two games this season, it's been a little boom (6/155/2 in Week 2) or bust (1/27/0 in Week 1) for Robinson. That said, the 21-year-old second-year receiver was highly consistent before his season-ending foot injury as a rookie. Before the injury, he had four-plus catches in nine consecutive games last year. As noted above, the Jaguars are two-TD underdogs so they could find themselves airing it out early and often. There is upside with ARob, but I think his floor is much higher than his Week 1 dud.

WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SF)

One of my favorite value receivers heading into the season, I repeatedly noted this offseason the per-game success that Fitzgerald had when both he and Palmer were healthy. With both healthy to start this year, the duo has even exceeded my expectations. Fitzgerald has 14 catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns through the first two weeks. Early in the season, the 49ers have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers.

TE - Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (at BAL)

Eifert seemed poised for a breakout last season, but he missed 15 1/2 games due to injury. That said, his breakout is underway as only New England's Rob Gronkowski (44.7) has scored more fantasy points than Eifert (33.3) among tight ends. In the first two games, Eifert has hauled in 13 receptions for 153 yards and three touchdowns. The Ravens have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, but Eifert remains a top-five fantasy tight end for me this week.

TE - Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore Ravens (vs. CIN)

Like the Ravens, the Bengals have been stingy in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends (fourth-fewest) this season. Gillmore followed up a modest Week 1 performance with five catches for 88 yards and two scores last week against the Raiders. As one of the top-two targets in Baltimore's passing game, Gillmore is just inside my top-12 fantasy tight ends for Week 3.

Here are some players to potentially sit in Week 3:

QB - Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles (at NYJ)

As great as Bradford and the Eagles offense looked in the preseason, it's been the complete opposite through two regular-season games. Bradford is outside the top-30 fantasy quarterbacks in points scored and has thrown more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (two). Unfortunately, this week's matchup against the Jets sets up poorly for a rebound -- only the Broncos and Cowboys (last week's opponent) have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

QB - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (vs. DEN)

As noted above, no team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Broncos. In fact, they have allowed an average of 2.91 fantasy points per game through two weeks. The Broncos have allowed only 133.5 passing yards per game with no touchdowns and four interceptions in those games. And although he's expected to play this week, Stafford is battled an assortment of injuries that puts him at less than 100 percent in a difficult matchup.

RB - Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SF)

With Andre Ellington sidelined last week, Johnson led the Cardinals backfield in workload with 20 carries and he should once again get the largest share of the workload. That said, he has averaged just 3.63 YPC on his 30 carries in two favorable matchups this season against the Saints and Bears. In fact, he only finished as the RB27 last week despite getting 20 carries. With rookie David Johnson much more productive on a per-touch basis, Chris may not see 20 touches once again this week even if he gets the largest share.

RB - Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (vs. PIT)

It appears that Gurley will make his NFL debut this week after practicing in full and splitting first-team reps with Tre Mason. Eventually the top-10 draft pick will appear on the Start'em side of these posts, but I'd expect for the Rams to gradually ease him into game action. For now, it's better to take a wait-and-see approach with the highly-talented rookie.

RB - Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (vs. DEN)

Both Bell and teammate Ameer Abdullah are outside my top-24 fantasy running backs this week and Bell is actually my RB46. If Bell finishes as the RB46, it would be his best performance of the season after finishing as fantasy's RB47 and RB63, respectively. Bell has a total of only 10 carries for 16 yards (1.6 YPC) through two games and a difficult matchup against the Broncos this week.

WR - Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (vs. DEN)

Given how few fantasy points the Broncos have allowed to opposing quarterbacks, it's no surprise that they have allowed the fewest to opposing receivers as well. Aside from Jeremy Maclin (four catches for 57 yards), no receiver has more than two catches or 25 yards against them this season. While Tate has 18 targets through two games, he has only 104 receiving yards and has finished as the WR74 and WR44, respectively.

WR - Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (vs. IND)

One week after posting a 4/101/1 line, Wright was held to just two catches on four targets for 17 yards against the Browns in Week 2. The good news for the Colts defense is that cornerback Vontae Davis is cleared to play although that's not good news for Wright. Wright has never exceeded 80 receiving yards in any of his six games against the Colts and he had a total of seven catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in two games against them last year.

WR - Andre Johnson, Indianapolis Colts (at TEN)

Not only has it been a rough start for Gore, it's been an even worse start for Johnson. So far, Johnson has managed to parlay his 17 targets into only seven catches for 51 yards (7.29 Y/A). Meanwhile, second-year receiver Donte Moncrief has 13/168/2 on 19 targets through two games. Going into Week 3, Johnson is my third-ranked Colts receiver behind T.Y. Hilton and Moncrief.

TE - Owen Daniels, Denver Broncos (at DET)

In an offense that has prominently featured tight ends, Daniels has been nearly invisible through two weeks. With only seven targets, Daniels has just five catches for 24 yards (4.8 Y/A) and no scores.

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September 24, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: Undervalued PPR Options for Week 3

Week 2 was definitely a boom-or-bust week for my suggested players.

Unfortunately, the busts (one in particular) outweighed the booms. I’m not really too upset about it though, I admit some of them were risky picks and that’s one of the downsides in picking players based on upside – often times their floors are low.

Week 2 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+8.4-13.8-16.2-15.9-37.5
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+11.7+5.1-42.6-4.6-30.4

* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over).

Best of the week -- DeAngelo Williams +37.8: Huge week for Williams as he wound up as the No. 1 RB in Week 2. Latavius Murray had a solid outing, but still came up way short of Williams. On the other hand, Jonathan Stewart was a dud, as expected.

Runner up -- Carson Palmer +15.1: Palmer lacked in the yardage category but made up for it with 4 TDs. Matt Ryan turned in a good performance as well, but well below his ECR in Week 2. Tony Romo was injured during the game, but he wasn’t doing all that much before then.

Worst of the week -- C.J. Spiller -51.6: Well, I did mention that this was only a suggestion if he played. Unfortunately for me, he played just enough to qualify for that statement, but not nearly as much as expected. I knew he would be on a pitch count, but seven snaps?! In a game where your offense can’t get anything going?! Why not use one of the most explosive guys on your team to try and get something started? Anyways, the plethora of guys I suggested to bench in favor of Spiller had mixed results. Three of them scored under 10 points, the other three had good showings. The best of the bunch was Dion Lewis – what can I say, I expected LeGarrette Blount to get the majority of work. I got Belichicked.

Runner up -- Charles Johnson -16.1: I still expect Johnson to turn things around soon. You might be able to get him very cheap right now, and it may very well be worth the risk if you can. He’s very talented and I expect the Vikings passing offense to get going sometime in the next few weeks.

On to week 3!

Quarterbacks

Marcus MariotaTennessee Titans
FantasyPros ECR – 13

Mariota was solid again in Week 2 after a stellar first game in the NFL. He managed to put up over 250 yards and 2 TDs against a solid Browns pass defense. Against the Colts this week, I see two potential scenarios – both of which play out well for Mariota’s fantasy numbers. Scenario 1 is that the dumpster fire continues for the Colts and the Titans walk all over their defense. Now, they actually haven’t given up a ton of fantasy points to QBs, but that has a lot to do with the offensive styles of their opponents - the Colts have had the third-lowest pass attempts against them. The Titans like to throw the ball a lot more than the Bills and Jets. And given the Colts rank 29th in defensive pass efficiency, that could equal big numbers for Mariota.

Scenario 2 is that the Colts come out strong in desperation and pour on the points, forcing the Titans to throw a lot to keep up. I can see either scenario playing out, and I want to be on the Mariota train if they do.

Consider starting him over:
- Eli Manning – ECR 10. This is less of an indictment on Manning than it is a belief in Mariota’s upside this week. I could see Manning turning in a good game due to the desperation to avoid 0-3, but he also gets a surprising Redskins defense this week. Washington has gotten off to a very strong start defensively and while its hard to trust, you can’t deny the results so far.

Andy DaltonCincinnati Bengals
FantasyPros ECR – 16

Déjà vu. Dalton was on this list last week and posted a very solid outing, going for 214 yards and 3 TDs. Baltimore represents an odd matchup as it’s difficult to imagine they drop to 0-3, but they just got lit up by a Raiders offense that isn’t as talented as the Bengals offensively. This is the best offense the Bengals have put together in recent memory and they don’t have many weaknesses. I think that gives Dalton a chance to crack QB1 on a weekly basis, this week being no different.

Consider starting him over:
- Drew Brees – ECR 14. If the Saints can’t do anything at home against a putrid Bucs team, to avoid going 0-2, I have no confidence they can do anything against a tough Panthers D. The Saints continue their rapid descent.
- Tyrod Taylor – ECR 15. Taylor has been a very strong fantasy QB so far this season and Miami’s defense has not lived up to expectations. But Taylor is also turnover-prone and I think this is the week Miami shows their potential defensively. They are at home coming off an embarrassing loss to the Jags, which should light a fire under them.

Running Backs

David JohnsonArizona Cardinals
FantasyPros ECR – 32

Johnson has impressed in a very limited workload – he ranks 12th in total fantasy points despite only having five carries and two receptions on the season. No one can maintain that level of efficiency, but it shows how impactful he is when he touches the ball. Andre Ellington is not expected back this week and Chris Johnson has been underwhelming, with a 3.6 YPC average. Bruce Arians has already stated Johnson’s workload will increase a little in each week, but I imagine they will be a little more aggressive with his workload than that. Arians can’t ignore the explosiveness Johnson brings to the table, and the impact it has on the rest of the offense’s effectiveness. They face a Niners defense that just gave up the best RB performance of Week 2, so I like Johnson’s chance of performing in the RB2 range.

Consider starting him over:
- Shane Vereen – ECR 29. Vereen has been the Giants best back this year, but he is still in a split-workload situation, operating primarily as the passing-down back. The Redskins have been very good against RBs as receivers so far this season, ranking eighth in efficiency and FPPG. I just think Johnson and Vereen will have a similar amount of touches this week, and Johnson has a better matchup to do something with those touches.
DeMarco Murray – ECR 19. I’m in a wait-and-see mode with almost everyone in Philly right now. Murray is clearly frustrated, and rightfully so, as he has only 11 yards rushing on the season. The interior offensive line is getting blown up consistently and leaving no room for Murray to even get started. The Jets have arguably the best defensive line in the league, so I don’t imagine things improving this week.

Giovani BernardCincinnati Bengals
FantasyPros ECR – 23

Bernard has been very effective so far this season, averaging 6.6 yards per carry and 4.5 catches per game. He has earned a more prominent role in this offense, especially considering Jeremy Hill has struggled. After Hill’s second fumble last week, Bernard got all of the work and showed he is capable of carrying a full workload when needed. As a result, I think we will see a near even split in workload this week. While Baltimore has not given up a lot of fantasy points to RBs, a lot of that has to do with the matchups to this point. The Broncos run game has been ineffective thus far this season behind a new offensive line, and the Raiders are a pass-first team. The efficiency numbers tell a different story, as the Ravens rank 23rd against the run. The Bengals will feed their RBs early and often, and Bernard will get additional work in the passing game. This will be a week where the Bengals expose the Ravens run defense, especially given Terrell Suggs is out for the season.

Consider starting him over:
- Eddie Lacy – ECR 18. Lacy’s injury isn’t serious and there is speculation he may be able to play this week. If he does, I don’t expect him to be anywhere near 100%, which will impact his effectiveness. He already has a tough matchup against a stout Chiefs run defense, being less than 100% isn’t going to do him any favors. On top of all that, James Starks is an effective and trusted RB that the Packers have no concerns with giving a full workload. If Lacy does play, I still expect Starks to get a lot of work to limit Lacy’s workload.
- DeMarco Murray – ECR 19. See above.
- Lamar Miller – ECR 16. Miller is still recovering from an ankle injury and it remains to be seen if he will suit up on Sunday. If he does, I would stay away from him if you can. Miller is a guy who relies on his speed and agility to gain yards, an ankle injury is going to have a greater impact on his effectiveness than it may for other backs. Not to mention he faces a tough Bills defense.

Wide Receivers

Larry FitzgeraldArizona Cardinals
FantasyPros ECR – 16

Fitz is in the midst of a renaissance season, at least as long as Palmer is spinning the ball. He has been extremely effective and highly targeted, shedding speculation that he is no longer the best fantasy WR on his own team. The Cardinals get a matchup with the Niners this week, who are less than stellar against the pass. They give up the sixth-most FPPG to WRs, and rank 25th in defensive pass efficiency. Additionally, they rank 30th against WR1’s. This sets up for another WR1 performance for Fitzgerald.

Consider starting him over:
- Jordan Matthews – ECR 14. Matthews has been the lone bright spot for the Eagles, at least from a fantasy perspective. He could produce another good game despite the offensive struggles of the team, but I would venture to guess he cannot keep up the pace until the whole offense turns it around. Again, the Eagles get a strong Jets defense this week. Matthews will see a lot of Revis, and Sam Bradford is going to be under pressure all game. I’m willing to take the chance of sitting him if I have legitimate other options this week.
Calvin Johnson – ECR 12. As a Lions fan, I hope I am wrong about this. But looking at this objectively, I don’t have any evidence that suggests he will have a good week. The Lions offense has been bad so far, against much less imposing defenses than they face this week. The Broncos sport the best CB tandem in the league and if Matthew Stafford has improved anything in his game, it has been his decision making and not forcing the ball to reduce turnovers. I would gladly take the hit in my performance tracking to watch him go off this week, I just don’t see it happening.

Doug BaldwinSeattle Seahawks
FantasyPros ECR – 40

Baldwin is the most consistent receiving threat on the Seahawks, racking up 14 catches on 17 targets the past two weeks. The ‘Hawks will look to get “right” this week against a porous Bears team who rank in the bottom two against the pass by almost any metric you wish to use. While I think that means Jimmy Graham will get more looks this week, I also expect Baldwin to continue his steady play from the slot and rack up catches underneath.

Consider starting him over:
- Mike Wallace – ECR 36. The Vikings passing game has been a disappointment to this point. Wallace has been the best WR of the bunch, but that hasn’t necessarily equated to many fantasy points. The Chargers rank second in FPPG allowed to WRs, and rank sixth in efficiency against WR2’s specifically. While Wallace has been the most effective receiver, he is still considered the No. 2 in Minnesota, at least for the time being.
- Anquan Boldin – ECR 31. Boldin is still getting the targets, but his age is finally catching up to him in terms of his ability to do anything with the catches. The Cardinals rank fourth against WR1’s in terms of efficiency…this may be a long day for Boldin.

Tight End

Eric EbronDetroit Lions
FantasyPros ECR - 14

This may seem a bit odd given my previous statement on Calvin Johnson. However, I think Ebron will be the primary beneficiary of the stout Broncos CBs. While they will be locked up in 1-on-1 coverage with Johnson and Tate, Ebron will have the middle of the field to operate. He has been solid in the first two weeks, posting 15 points in each game. He is obviously much more involved in the passing game this year, and let’s not forget he is an athletic freak. I can see Ebron putting up a big game as the primary target this week.

Consider starting him over:
- Jason Witten – ECR 8. Witten is about as banged up as he can be and has Brandon Weeden at QB. Maybe he becomes Weeden’s security blanket, but Weeden’s MO has never been as a check down guy. He’s a gunslinger, just not a very good one.

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 3!

Check out my full Week 3 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings and follow me on twitter @rw11687.

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September 23, 2015

DFS Roundtable: Favorite DraftKings Play for Week 3

Every week this season, our contributors will give their favorite plays for the week in DraftKings contests.

Q: Who is your favorite DraftKings play for Week 3?

Sean Beazley - Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts ($4,800)

There is one game I am looking forward to this weekend for DFS purposes and that's the Colts at Titans. There are a number of good plays I like in this one, but by far my favorite is Colts WR Donte Moncrief. Moncrief has 13 receptions on 19 targets this year, and has been the best Colts offensive playmaker thus far. Moncrief gets a juicy matchup vs. the Titans, who got torched last week deep by the Browns Travis Benjamin. Moncrief's salary is too low at $4,800. There are a lot of decent plays around this price point, so pairing Moncrief with one of those other players will give you the salary you need to pay up for an elite WR, RB or paying up for Andrew Luck. Titans CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson is my guess on who will draw Moncrief. He is one of the worst CBs in the league. He gets beat routinely down field, so I expect another big outing from the Colts wideout. I think he is a top-15 WR this week with upside to finish in the top-five.

Bonus Play -- Marcus Mariota, QB, $6,100: Mariota won the DuganBrothers $2,000,000 last week, and I think he makes for a very solid play this week. I think the Titans are going to get their asses handed to them by Luck & Co. so the Titans should be playing from behind. Mariota finished with 18.18 points last week. I think he finishes in the low 20's this week as I see pass attempts in the 40's for him. Mariota is the perfect GPP pivot off Tyrod Taylor ($5,800), who should be one of the most popular cheap QB plays this week.

Brendan Donahue - Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers ($4,400)

Woodhead continues to be undervalued on Draftkings. After putting up 22.2 and 16.4 points in his first two games, he still is only $4,400 this week with a good matchup against the Vikings, who rank 22nd in fantasy points given up to RBs so far this year. With 10 catches on 13 targets for 88 yards through two games, Woodhead is a safe play to put up points even if he doesn't score a TD.

Ryan Watterson - Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers ($4,400)

Being that I recommended Woodhead last week, this isn't exactly a creative choice. But he is still a great value at $4,400 this week. Woodhead has been more productive than Melvin Gordon and is essentially splitting snaps with him, so there is plenty of opportunity. The Vikings are vulnerable to RBs as receivers, giving up a combined eight catches for 66 yards to the Lion's RBs last week. Additionally, they are ranked 24th in efficiency against RBs as receivers. Add Woodhead to your lineup while he is still a bargain, as I'm not sure how long that will last.

Kevin Hanson - LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots ($4,000)

Not safe for cash-game lineups, this is a high-risk, high-reward play that I'll use in many of my tournament lineups this week. Entering the week as a two-TD favorite with the highest projected Vegas total, the game plan for the Patriots should be different than last week's where Tom Brady threw it 59 times, the second-most of his career.

Jacksonville has allowed just 2.9 YPC, second-best in the NFL, and Blount had just two carries for four yards on Sunday, both of which should lead to ultra-low ownership levels this week. In his past 13 games with the Patriots (counting the postseason), however, Blount has rushed for 14 touchdowns and he has five multi-touchdown games during that stretch. While Dion Lewis should have a much higher ownership level this week, it wouldn't surprise me if Blount scored a touchdown, or two, at an ownership level of one or two percent.

Dan Yanotchko - Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars ($5,200)

I'm going with Allen Robinson of the Jaguars this week at $5,200. Fantasy points do not care about garbage time, and garbage time could come early on Sunday. The Patriots have allowed 260 yards per game, and four touchdowns so far this year. Robinson has also been Blake Bortles favorite receiver with 19 targets, seven receptions for 182 yards, and two touchdowns so far.

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September 22, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 3 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. From this point going forward, however, we will make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 3 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 3-16):

1. Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning): 18.91
1. Tennessee Titans (Marcus Mariota): 18.91
3. Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck): 18.44
4. Cincinnati Bengals (Andy Dalton): 18.32
5. Baltimore Ravens (Joe Flacco): 18.11

Five least favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 3-16):

32. New England Patriots (Tom Brady): 14.56
31. Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger): 15.25
30. Oakland Raiders (Derek Carr): 15.51
29. New York Giants (Eli Manning): 15.71
28. Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers): 15.83

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

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2015 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 3 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. From this point going forward, however, we will make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 3 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 3-16):

1. Denver Broncos (C.J. Anderson, Ronnie Hillman): 20.05
2. Minnesota Vikings (Adrian Peterson): 19.81
3. San Francisco 49ers (Carlos Hyde): 19.70
4. Kansas City Chiefs (Jamaal Charles): 19.37
5. Green Bay Packers (Eddie Lacy): 19.14

Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 3-16):

32. New England Patriots (Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount): 13.19
31. Buffalo Bills (LeSean McCoy): 14.07
30. New York Giants (Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen): 14.48
29. Miami Dolphins (Lamar Miller): 14.86
28. New York Jets (Chris Ivory): 15.51

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

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2015 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 3 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. From this point going forward, however, we will make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 3 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 3-16):

1. Cincinnati Bengals (A.J. Green): 24.40
2. Washington Redskins (Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson): 24.27
3. Baltimore Ravens (Steve Smith): 24.18
4. Miami Dolphins (Jarvis Landry): 24.01
5. San Diego Chargers (Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson): 23.93

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 3-16):

32. Chicago Bears (Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal): 20.00
31. Oakland Raiders (Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree): 20.27
30. Indianapolis Colts (T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief): 20.43
29. Atlanta Falcons (Julio Jones, Roddy White): 20.52
28. New Orleans Saints (Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston, Brandon Coleman): 20.57

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

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2015 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 3 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. From this point going forward, however, we will make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 3 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 3-16):

1. Cincinnati Bengals (Tyler Eifert): 11.01
2. Denver Broncos (Owen Daniels, Virgil Green): 10.49
3. Kansas City Chiefs (Travis Kelce): 10.27
4. New York Jets: 10.21
5. Baltimore Ravens (Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams): 10.15

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 3-16):

32. New York Giants (Larry Donnell): 7.05
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Austin Seferian-Jenkins): 7.26
30. Seattle Seahawks (Jimmy Graham): 7.28
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (Heath Miller): 7.33
28. Atlanta Falcons (Jacob Tamme): 7.37

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

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September 21, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: Some Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 3

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add within their position group.]

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 3 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

QB - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (30 percent)

In any given week, fantasy owners have been unsure of what they'll get from Dalton. Since entering the league in 2011, only eight quarterbacks have more multi-touchdown games than Dalton (33). On the other hand, only Philip Rivers (20) has more multi-interception games during that span.

Last season, the team's most-talented pass-catchers -- A.J. Green (three games), Tyler Eifert (15) and Marvin Jones (16) -- missed a combined 34 games. Before 2014, however, Dalton had posted back-to-back top-12 fantasy quarterback seasons and he's off to a good start this season.

Through two games, Dalton has completed 41-of-60 pass attempts (68.3 percent) for 8.05 yards per attempt and a 5-to-0 TD-to-INT ratio. With continued good health from Green, Eifert and Jones, it's possible that Dalton finishes with his third top-12 season in four years.

QB - Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (15 percent)

Taylor has now faced Andrew Luck and Tom Brady in his first two NFL starts. After outplaying Luck in Week 1, Taylor nearly scored more fantasy points than Brady, who racked up 466 passing yards and three touchdowns against the Bills. Although Taylor threw three picks, he threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 43 yards and a fourth score.

We may not see any more four-touchdown games from Taylor this season, but his dual-threat abilities give him plenty of weekly upside. And if I'm an owner that lost Tony Romo to a broken collarbone, I'd prefer to add Taylor over Brandon Weeden, especially with Dez Bryant sidelined with his broken foot.

QB - Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (14 percent)

Leading the Raiders to a win over the Ravens on Sunday, Carr completed 30-of-46 pass attempts for 351 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The Raiders may not score 37 points often, but Carr could once again rank near the top of the league in pass attempts. Only the Colts, Saints and Falcons threw it more often than the Raiders last season.

RB - Matt Jones, Washington Redskins (23 percent)

Highly productive in the preseason with a yards-per-carry average of 6.95, Jones had a modest Week 1 performance -- six carries for 28 yards. In Week 2 against the Rams, however, Jones had more touches (22) and yards from scrimmage (146) than Alfred Morris (20 touches for 72 yards) and scored both of Washington's rushing touchdowns. While he won't necessarily lead the team's backfield in workload or production in most weeks, Washington will continue to lean heavily on both Morris and Jones.

RB - Dion Lewis, New England Patriots (35 percent)

Even though LeGarrette Blount returned from suspension, it was Dion Lewis -- not Blount -- that handled the majority of backfield touches against the Bills. Lewis finished with seven carries for 40 yards and a score in addition to six catches for 98 yards on nine targets. (Lewis had 120 YFS on 19 carries in Week 1.) Against teams with weaker defensive lines and run defenses than the Bills, we will see a much larger role from Blount, but Lewis has become a must-own running back in all formats.

RB - Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (45 percent)

Through two games, Freeman has averaged just 1.95 yards per carry (22 carries for 43 yards with one touchdown). Freeman has been targeted 12 times in the pass game and has converted that into seven catches for 63 yards as well. With Tevin Coleman (ribs) expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks, Freeman should get a significant workload while Coleman is out.

RB - David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (34 percent)

With Andre Ellington (PCL) out on Sunday, Johnson had another productive outing despite getting limited touches. After turning his lone touch in Week 1 into a 55-yard touchdown, Johnson turned six touches into 45 yards and two scores counting a 108-yard kickoff return in Week 2. Meanwhile, Chris Johnson carried the ball 20 times for 72 yards and now has 30 carries for 109 yards (3.63 YPC). The rookie out of Northern Iowa will see his role expand throughout the season, but Bruce Arians has said that Chris Johnson remains the team's starter heading into Week 3.

RB - Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (37 percent)

After getting seven carries in Week 1, Johnson saw a larger workload (12 carries for 43 yards) in Week 2. Surprisingly, the versatile rookie has yet to be targeted in the passing game through two games. Eventually, Johnson should carve out a significant role in the passing game, especially given the team's lack of talented pass-catchers, but I'd expect him to average double-digit touches going forward.

RB - James Starks, Green Bay Packers (11 percent)

Starks spot on this list would move up if Eddie Lacy misses Week 3 against the Chiefs. Lacy left Sunday's game early and Starks carried the ball 20 times for 95 yards against the Seahawks. X-rays on Lacy's ankle came back negative so there is optimism that Lacy will be ready to go for Monday night, however.

RB - Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (37 percent)

Through two games, C.J. Anderson has 24 carries for 56 yards (a very modest 2.33 YPC) and Hillman has 21 carries for 75 yards (a modest 3.57 YPC). CJA remains the starter and the team's offensive line is a concern, but Hillman should be owned in more than a third of leagues. And fantasy owners that used an early pick on Anderson should especially add Hillman, if available.

WR - Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (23 percent)

As noted above, the Raiders ranked fourth in the NFL in pass attempts last season. And on Sunday, Crabtree led the Raiders in targets (16) turning that volume into a 9/111/1 stat line. In most weeks, I'd expect rookie Amari Cooper (7/109/1 on 11 targets in Week 2) to lead team in production, but Crabtree is worth a look, especially in PPR formats.

WR - Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals (16 percent)

Jones had two catches for 48 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, but he has just four catches through two games. While he missed all of the 2014 season, Jones now has 11 touchdowns in his past 18 games. That said, Jones is no better than third in line for targets behind Green and Eifert.

WR - Brandon Coleman, New Orleans Saints (42 percent)

After hauling in four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, Coleman added three catches for 33 yards on six targets in Week 2. The Saints' top four wide receivers all had between five to seven targets on Sunday, but the 6-foot-6 Coleman could finish the year as the team's second-best fantasy receiver behind Brandin Cooks. And it wouldn't surprise me if he leads the position group in touchdowns.

WR - Leonard Hankerson, Atlanta Falcons (four percent)

With Roddy White posting a goose egg on one target, Hankerson parlayed his 11 targets into six catches for 77 yards and a score against the Giants on Sunday. Of course, fantasy owners shouldn't expect 11 targets for Hankerson (or just one for White) each week, but he has played 100 (or 67.1 percent of) snaps as the team's No. 3 receiver through two games. With just two catches for 16 yards in Week 1, however, Hankerson will likely be inconsistent from week to week as long as Julio Jones and White are both healthy.

WR - Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (11 percent)

As a rookie, Hurns posted a 51/677/6 line last season and he has had two solid outings so far this year. Hurns had five catches for 60 yards in Week 1 and four catches for 68 yards in Week 2. While Hurns is the team's No. 2 receiver to Allen Robinson, the Jags will often find themselves in catch-up mode, which should allow Hurns to have some productive outings.

TE - Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (16 percent)

Along with Calvin Johnson (17) and Golden Tate (10), Ebron (10) was one of three Lions pass-catchers to get double-digit targets in Week 2. Only half of his targets were converted into receptions as Ebron finished with five receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown. The 2014 top-10 selection has now scored in back-to-back games.

TE - Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers (49 percent)

Through two games, Green has 10 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. For at least two more games, the athletic Green will remain the team's top tight end, but Antonio Gates will return in Week 5. Green should be more involved than he had been in years past even after Gates returns, but his weekly production will likely be inconsistent from Weeks 5 to 17.

TE - Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore Ravens (four percent)

With only two catches for 23 yards in Week 1, Gillmore hauled in five receptions for 88 yards and two scores against the Raiders on Sunday. Given the team's relative weakness among their pass-catchers, Gillmore is the team's best option in the passing game not named Steve Smith.

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September 20, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 2 (Hanson)

Going into Week 1, I was very confident in a couple of picks even though I posted a 1-1-1 record against the spread.

Since we assign a confidence level (based on units) on the games, the game that assigned my highest unit total covered, the second-highest unit total was a push and the lowest-unit total was the ATS loss so ultimately it was a profitable week in terms of units.

For Week 2, there are no games that jump out to me as a slam-dunk type of play (then again, are any ever really a slam dunk?). Therefore, my Week 2 picks total just six units (compared to 11 units in Week 1).

With that said, here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 2 of the 2015 NFL season:

Minnesota Vikings -2 over Detroit Lions (3 units)

For different reasons, Week 1 was a week to forget for both teams. While the Vikings could never get anything going in their 21-3 loss, the Lions were outscored 30-7 to blow their 21-3 lead over the Chargers.

Last week, Carlos Hyde and the 49ers ran the ball 39 times versus only 17 attempts for the Vikings. Of their 17 rush attempts, Adrian Peterson had only 10 carries for 31 yards. This week, we should expect to see a much heavier workload for one of the NFL's greatest running backs of all-time. In 12 career games against the Lions, Peterson has 1,258 rushing yards -- 5.35 yards per carry -- and 12 total touchdowns and I expect him to go over 100 yards and find the endzone on Sunday.

Historically, the Vikings have gotten the better of the Lions at home in this series with wins in 18 of the past 21. Against the spread, the Vikings have posted a 13-7-1 record in those same contests. Meanwhile, the Lions have covered only twice in their past 14 games as underdogs.

St. Louis Rams -3.5 over Washington Redskins (2 units)

One concern for me in this game is the Rams emotional overtime victory over the Seahawks in Week 1 and that there is a bit of a letdown heading into Week 2 against the dysfunctional Redskins.

Led by Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald and Chris Long, the Rams arguably have the league's best defensive line and Washington has had their fair share of issues with protection. In turn, Kirk Cousins has had turnover issues. In his last nine games, Cousins has posted a 12:14 TD-to-INT ratio. Not only will Cousins be without dynamic deep threat DeSean Jackson, but tight end Jordan Reed is battling a quad injury that has him questionable for Sunday's matchup and could limit his effectiveness if he plays.

Washington has won only four of their past 25 games, and they haven't been much better against the spread. During that 25-game span, they have covered only seven games.

Indianapolis Colts -7 over New York Jets (1 unit)

Among my three picks this week, this is the one that I have the least confidence in, which you can tell by the number of units (just one).

As poor as the Colts looked Week 1 against the Bills, however, they have historically been much better at home and they have bounced back resiliently from losses. In 26 home games, Andrew Luck has won 21 games straight up and has posted an 18-7-1 record against the spread. Meanwhile, the Colts are 17-1 ATS in games following a loss.

The Colts have questions on offense as T.Y. Hilton was initially expected to miss a game or two, but it appears that he'll be able to go Monday night. In addition, both Frank Gore and Andre Johnson looked every bit their age. Part of that was due to facing a dominant Bills defense, but the Jets also have a strong defense.

Ultimately, I am willing to put my faith into the resiliency of Luck & Co. to bounce back as they have historically done following a loss.

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Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 2 Values for DraftKings Contests

In a salary-cap format, finding players that give you a bang for the buck is key to constructing an optimal lineup.

With that said, here are some of my favorite value plays for Week 2:

QB - Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. TB), $7,800

Granted, Brees may not qualify as a value in absolute terms with the third-highest quarterback salary this week, but he is a value in relative terms as my top-ranked signal-caller for Week 2. One week after rookie Marcus Mariota shredded the Bucs secondary for four first-half touchdowns in his NFL debut, the quarterback with half of the 5,000-yard seasons in NFL history is up next. Favored by double digits, one potential concern for the Saints (Brees) is a blowout that leads to the Saints taking their foot off the gas in the second half.

That said, no quarterback has been more prolific than Brees at home. In 72 home games as a Saint, Brees has averaged a 2:49-to-0.92 TD-to-INT ratio with an average of 7.99 Y/A and 68.85-percent completion rate. In addition, Brees has exceeded the 300-yard mark in 42 of those 72 home games.

QB - Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. DAL), $6,900

No team is projected to score more points than the Eagles (30.5) this week; the Saints (28.75) are projected for the second most. The Eagles started slowly last week, but they scored 21 second-half points after trailing 20-3 at the half and that momentum should carry over to this week. While Bradford is unlikely to throw it 52 times again this week, he has plenty of upside despite a salary outside of the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks.

QB - Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at CHI), $6,700

While Palmer missed 10 games last season, he was productive on a per-game basis — 271.0 Y/G with multiple touchdown passes in five of six games. Picking up where he left off, Palmer opened the season with a 307-yard, three-TD performance against the Saints in Week 1. The Bears gave up the fifth-most fantasy points last week (to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers), but they allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season as well, giving Palmer another exploitable matchup this week.

RB - Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (at JAX), $5,500

Miller had a modest performance last week with 75 yards from scrimmage on 14 touches, 4.1 yards per carry and no scores. Washington has an excellent front-seven, though, and I expect a better performance from Miller in Week 2 against the Jaguars. Even though the Dolphins don't give him the heavy workloads his per-touch production warrants, Miller was one of the most consistent running back performers last season. Going into this weekend's games, Miller is my seventh-ranked PPR running back and only the 17th-most expensive at the position group.

RB - Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (at PIT), $5,100

Hyde exploded for 168 rushing yards and two scores last week en route to finishing as the top-scoring fantasy running back for Week 1. With Week 2 pricing set prior to that Monday night performance, that outing isn't reflected in Hyde's $5,100 price tag. While there are some concerns with Hyde (high ownership levels, the team being a road underdog and playing on a short week), Hyde should still get a heavy workload regardless of game flow with Reggie Bush out and outproduce his salary.

RB - Chris Ivory, New York Jets (at IND), $4,700

There are a number of factors working Ivory's favor this week that make him attractive at his RB28 salary. Carrying the ball 20 times for 91 yards and two TDs against the Browns, Ivory figures to get a heavy workload once again as the Jets look to control the clock and keep Andrew Luck and the (normally) high-powered Colts offense off the field. And while being a seven-point road underdog certainly isn't ideal for a running back's fantasy outlook, the Colts run defense is one of the league's worst and it's unlikely that 27 running backs outproduce Ivory this week.

RB - Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (at CIN), $4,000

Gaining 62 yards on 16 touches (including four receptions), Woodhead scored two touchdowns in Week 1. Not only is Woodhead the team's third-down back, but he clearly has the trust of Philip Rivers in the red zone. In his only healthy season with the Chargers (2013), he had 76 catches and scored eight touchdowns. With the 41st-highest salary among running backs, Woodhead is my 13th-ranked PPR back for Week 2.

RB - Lance Dunbar, Dallas Cowboys (at PHI), $3,000

Playing 32 of the team's 71 offensive snaps last week, Dunbar didn't get any carries, but he racked up eight receptions for 70 yards against the Giants, which was good for 15 DraftKings points (PPR scoring). With Dez Bryant out, Dunbar should once again be heavily involved in the passing attack. The Cowboys are 5.5-point underdogs in the game with this week's highest over/under. Given his position-minimum salary, Dunbar provides the flexibility to load up elsewhere.

WR - Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. DAL), $7,100

As noted earlier, no team is projected to score more points this week than the Eagles and a Bradford-Matthews stack will surely be one of the highest-owned combos. That said, Matthews was highly targeted in Week 1 (10/102 on 13 targets) and I think we could see a similar performance from him again this week. And he's actually $100 cheaper than his $7,200 Week 1 price tag.

WR - Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (vs. STL), $5,000

Not only will DeSean Jackson (hamstring) be sidelined for the next several weeks, but the oft-injured tight end Jordan Reed is questionable with a quad injury. By default, Garcon is in line for a heavy dose of targets in Week 2. Coincidentally, the one game that D-Jax missed last year was against the Rams and Garcon finished that game with nine catches for 95 yards on 11 targets despite the team getting shut out.

WR - Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys (at PHI), $4,200

The broken foot injury for Dez elevates Williams to the No. 1 receiver role for the Cowboys. Although he doesn't possess a WR1 skill set and it increases the attention he'll receive from the Eagles defense, he should see a much larger number of targets during Bryant's absence. At his price, Williams has plenty of upside in the game expected to be the highest-scoring of the week.

WR - Steve Johnson, San Diego Chargers (at CIN), $4,200

In his Chargers debut, Johnson caught all six of his targets for 82 yards and a score. While his price has increased from last week's $3,700 salary, it remains relatively low -- priced as WR46 this week. Especially with Antonio Gates suspended for three more games, Johnson should be the second-most productive pass-catcher for the Chargers behind Keenan Allen.

WR - Brandon Coleman, New Orleans Saints (vs. TB), $3,300

Behind Brandin Cooks (73 snaps), Coleman (58) was on the field for more snaps than Marques Colston (46) in Week 1. As I noted above, Brees is in a great spot to carve up a bad Bucs secondary and historically the Saints offense has been virtually unstoppable at home. Given his size (6-6, 225), it wouldn't surprise me if Coleman scored a touchdown (or two) this weekend and he's priced near the position minimum for the week.

WR - Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys (at PHI), $3,300

Once again, the Bryant injury elevates the involvement of the other pass-catchers and Beazley is priced only $300 above the position minimum. While Williams has a higher ceiling, Beasley should easily exceed value, especially given the PPR-scoring of DraftKings contests. I expect him to finish with five-plus catches for 50-plus yards in Week 2.

TE - Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (at PHI), $4,300

Sticking with the theme of Cowboys' pass-catchers, Witten should see a heavy dose of targets in Philly. Against the Giants last week, Witten had eight receptions (on nine targets) for 60 yards and two scores. It was only the fifth multi-touchdown game in Witten's 192-game career, but he has been productive against the Eagles with an average of 5.8 receptions and 64.9 yards per game.

TE - Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers (at PIT), $3,000

Especially in tournaments, Davis is certainly a viable punt play at only $3,000. Obviously, Davis shouldn't be compared to Rob Gronkowski, who scored three touchdowns against the Steelers last week, but Davis has elite athleticism for the position and the 49ers could find themselves in a situation that leads to more than the 26 pass attempts they had against the Vikings in Week 1. The recipient of roughly one-quarter of the team's targets (six), Davis had three catches for 47 yards in Week 1. And even though he has only two touchdowns since the start of the 2014 season, Davis has scored 13 touchdowns in two separate seasons since 2009.

- Week 2 DFS DraftKings Cheat Sheet

Week 2 Fantasy Football Rankings:

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 2 (Yanotchko)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 2 of the 2015 NFL season:

New England Patriots -1 over Buffalo Bills (4 units)
Patriots at Bills -- Over 44.5 (2 units)

The Bills had an outstanding first week, as they blitzed the Colts into submission. And although it's a new team, it's the same old Rex Ryan talking trash to the Patriots this week.

The Patriots have always had Buffalo's number, and outside of a meaningless Week 17 game last year, the Pats have gone 9-2 in their last 11 against the spread in Buffalo. The Patriots will have a much better game plan for the Bills than Indy did, and of course nobody welcomes first-year starting quarterbacks to the league better than Bill Belichick.

This will certainly be a close game, but the Patriots have the proper personnel to slow down the Bills rush, and to stymie Buffalo's ground and pound, which has a hobbled LeSean McCoy. Rex Ryan never learns about talking trash, and the Patriots will do what they do best, go into Buffalo and rip out the Bills Mafia heart.

[Editor's note: In case it weren't obvious, Dan is a die-hard Patriots fan.]

St. Louis Rams -3.5 over Washington Redskins (3 units)

I was flipping channels last Sunday, and just happened to watch a few snaps of the Washington vs. Miami game, and boy are the Redskins really bad. Washington looks completely anemic on offense, Kirk Cousins is not -- or should not be -- a starting QB, and to make matters worse, that awful offensive line will have to block the best defensive front line in the league.

The Rams had quite a day to open their campaign, but they always play Seattle tough, and with that front-seven, they will not be out of many games. Washington only managed 188 yards passing last week, and a paltry 6.3 yards per attempt, and the figures are about to get worse with the Rams coming in.

I love giving the 3.5 here to the dominant defense, as the Rams are better than Washington in all three phases of the game.

Detroit Lions +2 over Minnesota Vikings (2 units)

Both teams had a rough start to the year, as the Lions blew a 21-3 lead, and the Vikings didn't even get out of the starting gate at all against the 49ers. The Vikings had a really bad day on defense, as they allowed 230 yards rushing, and an average of 5.9 yards per carry. This is exactly where the Lions will attack Minnesota, as they have a dual-headed monster in Joique Bell and Ameer Abdullah. I love the Lions on the road this week, and while I think this will be a close game, I will gladly take the points here.

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September 19, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 2 (Beazley)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 2 of the 2015 NFL season:

Chicago Bears +2 over Arizona Cardinals (3 units)

The Bears looked pretty awful Week 1 vs. the Packers, but I think they come out and take care of business vs. the Cardinals. The Cardinals will be without starting RB Andre Ellington, which only leaves the Johnsons (Chris & David) to carry the workload. I think the loss of Ellington will hurt the Cardinals on Sunday. I think the Bears will move the ball with little problem this week. I expect Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffrey, and Martellus Bennett to have big games. The Bears get back on track at home, 24-20.

Pittsburgh Steelers -7 over San Francisco 49ers (3 units)

It's still early in the season, but west coast teams that travel east for a 1 PM start typically don't play well. The 49ers looked extremely good in their home win vs. the Vikings in Week 1. Carlos Hyde was the top fantasy RB on DK last week and he should be near the highest-owned RB this week. I just can't get behind the 49ers this week.

Big Ben is usually money at home, and I love him in this spot Sunday. Ben Roethlisberger is someone I love in DFS and very well could be my cash game QB (currently Sam Bradford) on Sunday. I am also favoring Antonio Brown over Julio Jones as I think this game sets up nicely for a 10/140/2 type of game. The Steelers are 0-5 in their last five games without LeVeon Bell, averaging only 16 points per game in those contests. There are trends and stats that go each way, but in the end you always have to go with your gut. My gut says the Steelers double up the 49ers, 34-17.

New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Over 47.5 (5 units)

The Bucs defense looked absolutely awful last week against a QB making his NFL debut. The Titans don't exactly have a juggernaut offense, but the Saints do. The Saints get some home cooking on Sunday and I expect Drew Brees to connect early and often with Brandin Cooks. Cooks is one of my favorite DFS plays this week. I think he is going to see a dozen targets this week.

The Bucs best WR Mike Evans returns from an injury this week, which should give them a good down field target and open up the running game a bit for Doug Martin. I think this game could be the highest-scoring game of the week and I like the Saints at home, 41-27.

Minnesota Vikings -2 over Detroit Lions (3 units)

I think this will be the game where people really start to talk about Matthew Stafford not being a franchise QB in this league. I have been saying this for the past two seasons. I think the Vikings D at home is a very sneaky GPP option on Sunday. I can see Stafford having a 3-4 turnover game. I like Teddy Bridgewater to get back on track as well. Give me the Vikings at home in an ugly performance by the Lions, 23-13.

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September 18, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 2 (Trifone)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 2 of the 2015 NFL season:

Miami Dolphins -6 over Jacksonville Jaguars (5 units)

Miami was not impressive in Week 1 and barely escaped Washington with a win. Lucky for them, Week 2 is a trip to Jacksonville to face the perennially terrible Jaguars. I expect bigger things out of their offense this week, with Ryan Tannehill and Jarvis Landry putting up much better numbers. Landry had the punt return for a TD Week 1, and he did snag eight catches, but for just 53 yards. Miami should look more like the team we expected this week and I like them to win easily on the road.

Baltimore Ravens -7 over Oakland Raiders (3 units)

Baltimore's defense was impressive against Denver Week 1, and were a big reason why people were questioning if Peyton Manning is finally done all week. The offense couldn't get going, though, and the Ravens took the loss. However, I expect them to bounce back at Oakland. It's looking like David Carr will play, but the young Raider QB will have his hands full this week. Give the 6.5.

Houston Texans +3 over Carolina Panthers (3 units)

I wasn't impressed with Carolina Week 1 against the Jags. Their offense doesn't appear very dangerous and I don't think Cam Newton can only carry the team too far virtually by himself. Greg Olsen was a non-factor Week 1 and while the team put up 20 points, only 13 were scored by the offense. Houston appears to be making a quick quarterback change, but whether it's Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallet, I like Houston to win this one outright.

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September 17, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: Undervalued PPR Options for Week 2

Well, Week 1 was fun, wasn’t it?

There were a lot of unexpected performances, both good and bad, which is pretty typical for the first week in any season. Marcus Mariota had one of the greatest first-game performances I can remember, while the perennial fantasy stud Peyton Manning put up a rather horrific line. Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t crack WR3 numbers, while Percy Harvin and James Jones turned back the clock with top-10 performances.

There were numerous other examples, but one word of advice – don’t overreact to any of these performances. We won’t truly know if these were one-off situations, or a sign of things to come, for at least a few more weeks (with the exception of Bryant). Simply use the Week 1 performance as another data point in your roster building and starting lineup decisions.

If anything, Week 1 should illuminate the importance of maximizing your starting lineup on a weekly basis. While the above examples are on the extreme sides of the spectrum, there are numerous examples of players with strong output that could easily have been justified as starters, but wound up on benches because of draft position. There are very few things that we can actually control in fantasy football, but maximizing your lineup is one of the few. You would be surprised how often the team with the most points scored doesn’t even crack the top 3 of total possible points in any given league.

Maximizing your lineup is what I aim to help with in my weekly article. While rankings are very beneficial, you have to dig deeper to identify the best possible lineup on a weekly basis.

Before heading into this week's underrated PPR players, let’s take a look at the outcome of my picks from last week.

Week 1 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+3.3+18.9-26.4+11.3+7.1
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+3.3+18.9-26.4+11.3+7.1

* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over).

Best of the week -- Mark Ingram +23.6: Ingram could have had an even bigger day, but for some reason the Saints abandoned the run early even though the game was close throughout. He also split carries with Khiry Robinson, at least more than expected. However, he made up for it in the pass game, leading the team with nine targets, catching eight of them for 98 yards. Frank Gore didn’t do anything against the Bills and LeSean McCoy was equally underwhelming with a 2.4 YPC.

Runner up -- Heath Miller +11.3: I wrote last week that Miller could see a lot of targets as the check down option in a game that should feature a lot of passing. He ended up with eight catches on 11 targets, second only to Antonio Brown. Meanwhile, Larry Donnell essentially disappeared on Sunday night.

Worst of the week -- Nelson Agholor -15.2: I guess I shouldn’t have bought into the preseason hype. Agholor caught a grand total of one pass and was a non-factor against a weak Dallas secondary. Brandon Marshall had a solid outing against Joe Haden, hats off to him. If the same matchup were tomorrow, I would still pick Haden over Marshall. However, I was right about Sammy Watkins. He posted ZERO points, but when Agholor barely tops a 0 on his own, it doesn’t mean much.

Runner up -- Rueben Randle -7: The Giants were just off offensively most of the night. In a game that scored a total of 53 points, the Giants were surprisingly ineffective, gaining only 289 yards on offense and producing one touchdown, while their defense and special teams put up 19 points. On the other side of the coin, Eric Decker had a decent game primarily due to a TD, while Marques Colston was nearly as bad as Randle.

Quarterbacks

Carson Palmer – Arizona Cardinals
FantasyPros ECR – 8

Palmer had a very solid outing last week against the Saints, putting up 307 yards and three TDs. Not too bad. This week, he faces a Chicago defense that doesn’t have much of a leg up on the Saints D. Both finished bottom-five in pass defense DVOA last year, and don’t look to have improved much as they rank bottom-three so far this season. Granted, its one week, but neither team showed they were much better than last season. I expect Palmer to have a solid outing and have a chance at a top-five finish this week.

Consider starting him over:
- Matt Ryan – ECR 4. The Giants are going to play with a lot of fire after the variety of mistakes that led to a loss against Dallas. They successfully shut down Dez Bryant well before he left the game in the 4th quarter, and have a solid pair of cornerbacks in Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Ryan is a significantly worse player on the road, averaging 11 points less in passer rating compared to home games.
- Tony Romo – ECR 5. Romo is ranked highly because of the expected game flow against Philly. The O/U currently sits at 55.5. However, I’m not sold on this being a shootout. First, let’s not forget Bryant isn’t playing. Even when he doesn’t produce, he draws a lot of defensive attention. Their other receivers are complementary players and fit well with Bryant on the field, they aren’t guys that can excel when the attention is focused on them. The run game struggled last week as well, averaging 3.5 YPC. This doesn’t set up well for a big outing from the ‘Boys. On top of that, Romo’s combined passer rating in two games against Philly last season equals his second-lowest rating for the year. Finally, I think the Eagles feed DeMarco Murray early and often against his former team, giving the Eagles a longer time of possession than expected.

Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals
FantasyPros ECR – 18

Say what you want about Dalton, but the man can produce fantasy numbers at times. We are not far removed from a season in which he finished as a top-five QB in fantasy points. A.J. Green is healthy and Tyler Eifert’s Week 1 performance was not a fluke, he will be a great safety valve if he stays healthy. Add a dynamic run game for balance, and Dalton appears to be in a great situation. I’m not sold on the Chargers defense despite a good performance against the Lions, especially since they will be traveling to the east coast for an early game on Sunday. Traditionally, teams don’t perform well in those scenarios.

Consider starting him over:
- Cam Newton – ECR 16. Newton was less than mediocre against Jacksonville last week. Not sure I see him improving on that performance against a good Houston defense that has something to prove after giving up 27 points in the first half to the Chiefs.
- Peyton Manning – ECR 13. This may be a risky pick considering competitors like Manning rarely play back-to-back poor games. However, I’m not sure what we saw in Week 1 was an aberration anymore. Manning is getting old and his arm strength has weakened each year for the past few seasons. Kansas City has a solid defense on par with the Ravens, and we saw what they did to Peyton. Not to mention, this is a quick turnaround game as they play Thursday, which means a shorter recovery time.

Running Backs

DeAngelo Williams – Pittsburgh Steelers
FantasyPros ECR – 21

Williams looked great against a strong Patriots run defense. He hit the hole hard and showed good speed and vision. The Steelers are coming off a 10-day rest to host the 49ers, who are coming off a short week and traveling cross country for an early game. I know the Niners held Adrian Peterson to 31 yards, but I would consider that the exception rather than the rule until proven otherwise. This is still a team that lost a lot of talent. Le’Veon Bell returns next week from suspension, so they will have no issue riding Williams on Sunday. I would expect 100-plus yards again with a chance for a TD or two.

Consider starting him over:
- Latavius Murray – ECR 18. The Raiders take on the Ravens, who just shut down C.J. Anderson in Denver. Even without Terrell Suggs, this is a solid run defense. Not to mention, the game flow probably won’t allow for a lot of ground and pound. The Ravens are sure to be upset about their offensive performance last week, so I expect them to jump out early, forcing the Raiders to play catchup via the air.
- Jonathan Stewart – ECR 17. Similar to Cam Newton, bad performance last week with a much better Houston defense on deck this week. Hard to imagine improving on his Week 1 stat line.

C.J. Spiller – New Orleans Saints
FantasyPros ECR – 41

Just a quick caveat: this obviously assumes Spiller ends up playing this week. All indications point to that being the case, but just a forewarning to monitor this situation for any news to the contrary. The Saints signed Spiller to fill their passing down back role, similar to a Darren Sproles or Pierre Thomas. Spiller has all the talent in the world and should excel in this role. He is best in space and that is how the Saints plan to utilize him. This is definitely a risk/reward play due to the unknown of how much he will play. But against a Tampa team that just let the Titans walk all over them, he may not need many touches to produce. Regardless, I see too much upside to let him ride the bench this week unless there is an indication he will be on a very limited pitch count.

Consider starting him over:
- Devonta Freeman – ECR 40. Tevin Coleman looks like the better back and should continue to see the majority of work.
- Dion Lewis – ECR 38. Yes, he looked good against the Steelers. But his role will be reduced with the return of LeGarrette Blount. Lewis should have a role spelling Blount and as the third-down back, but it’s always so hard to trust a Patriots back, especially if they aren’t getting the goal-line work.
- Joique Bell – ECR 37. Ameer Abdullah out-touched Bell 11-8 in Week 1. Based on the results of those touches, no reason to think that will change. If anything, Abdullah will see a few more looks given his effectiveness.
- Chris Johnson – ECR 29. Only thing in his favor is potential opportunities. But he is well past his prime and at some point, opportunities don’t mean much if you can’t capitalize on them. David Johnson has been hyped all pre-season, and we saw why last week. His first touch as a pro was a 55-yard TD reception. Arians has said he doesn’t want to throw the rookie into the fire, but Andre Ellington had a role as a rookie, so it could just be coach speak. There is no ignoring the gap in explosiveness between Chris and David Johnson.
- Giovani Bernard – ECR 27. Gio is hard to figure. Hill is definitely the primary back, but Bernard saw a fair share of work and produced against the Raiders. How much of that was due to the score of the game, I don’t know. I would rather bet on Spiller than Bernard given the matchup and role definition.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Coleman – New Orleans Saints
FantasyPros ECR – 43

Coleman was the MVP of training camp this offseason and is an intriguing player. At 6’6”, he has incredible length for a wide receiver, which bodes very well in the red zone. Coleman has displaced Marques Colston as the No. 2 WR, out-snapping him by 12 plays in Week 1. As the No. 2 in the Saints offense against the putrid Tampa defense, Coleman has an opportunity to build on a good Week 1 performance, which saw him go 4-41-1.

Consider starting him over:
- Percy Harvin – ECR 40. This is just a reminder that Harvin is still Harvin. I’m not ready to believe in his Week 1 stat line as anything other than an anomaly. Do you think a Pats defense is going to let him run wild coming off a 10-day break?
- Sammy Watkins – ECR 36. Let’s just say I have faith that a Belichick game plan will be enough to expose the Bills offense. The Bills are coming off a big win, which usually leads to a big letdown, especially against a team like the Pats. You think Belichick and Brady have suddenly forgotten the pointed comments Rex Ryan made as the Jets coach? They don’t forgive, and they don’t forget.

Stevie Johnson – San Diego Chargers
FantasyPros ECR – 31

Offseason reports had Stevie Johnson looking rejuvenated and establishing a rapport with Rivers during training camp. That showed in Week 1 as Johnson caught all six of his targets for 82 yards and a TD. As mentioned previously, I expect the Bengals offense to produce this week, which will mean San Diego will need to throw a lot to stay in the game. I wouldn’t expect Keenan Allen to get 17 targets again, so Johnson should see closer to 10 this week. That should give him ample opportunity to post WR2 numbers.

Consider starting him over:
Davante Adams – ECR 29. With the return of James Jones, who obviously still has a rapport with Aaron Rodgers, Adams will become third in line for targets. I know he led the team in targets last week, but he was much less efficient and Rodgers has more trust in Jones and Cobb. The Packers can support three viable WRs, but not in a week where they play an angry Seahawks team looking to avoid an 0-2 start. I expect we will see a strong performance from the Seahawks D, limiting the potential for Adams to produce.
Jeremy Maclin – ECR 27. Alex Smith isn’t going to force the ball to anyone as a game manager, and I don’t see Maclin creating much separation against Chris Harris or Aqib Talib.
Pierre Garcon – ECR 26. Garcon had a respectable performance last week against the Dolphins. But the Dolphins are not in the same league as the Rams, from a defensive standpoint. St. Louis had 6 sacks against a good Seattle offensive line. The Redskins will be under siege all day, and Kirk Cousins isn’t nearly as poised as Russell Wilson under pressure. In fact, Cousins typically turns into a turnover machine when he is uncomfortable. I don’t see their passing game doing much this week.

Charles Johnson – Minnesota Vikings
FantasyPros ECR – 39

Yes, he had a poor Week 1 outing despite all of the preseason hype. But you can bet the Vikings will be looking to rebound from a poor performance, and Johnson has an opportunity to show what all the hype was about. The Lions got picked apart last week by Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson. Their best CB, Darius Slay, is questionable at best to play this week. This is a risk/reward play, but Johnson has potential for a big game.

Consider starting him over:
- Sammy Watkins – ECR 36. See Coleman, Brandon.
- Nelson Agholor – ECR 38. Reversing course after getting burned last week. The Falcons D didn’t represent a difficult matchup, and Agholor produced next to nothing. Looks like it may take some time for him to get comfortable with Bradford and this offense.

Tight End

Austin Sefarian-Jenkins – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FantasyPros ECR - 11

ASJ was the lone bright spot in Week 1 for Tampa. Winston targeted him seven times, which he converted into 110 yards and two TDs. Tampa faces New Orleans this week, who just let some guy named Darren Fells put up 82 yards and a TD against them. There is no reason to expect the flow of this game being any different than last week against the Titans, so Winston should be throwing early and often, leaving ASJ with plenty of opportunity.

Consider starting him over:
- Heath Miller – ECR 10. Miller had a solid Week 1 performance, but the game situation was much different than what I expect this week to be. The Steelers will either be up early and turn to the run game, or this will be a surprisingly low-scoring game. I don’t see the Niners jumping out to a lead and forcing the Steelers to throw a lot. Thus, Miller will not have anywhere near 11 targets again.
- Jordan Reed – ECR 8. Pretty much the same reason I don’t like Pierre Garcon. See Johnson, Stevie.
Thanks for reading and good luck in week 2! Follow me on twitter @rw11687.

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September 16, 2015

DFS Roundtable: Favorite DraftKings Play for Week 2

Every week this season, our contributors will give their favorite plays for the week in DraftKings contests.

Q: Who is your favorite DraftKings play for Week 2?

Brendan Donahue - Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets ($4,700)

After posting 20 carries for 91 yards and 2 TDs for 23 points last week, Ivory has another great matchup against the Colts this week. The Colts gave up 147 yards on the ground last week to Buffalo and I think the Jets will try to control the clock and pound the run with Ivory all game. Great value for Ivory this week and should easily outproduce his salary.

Sean Beazley - Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles ($6,900)

My play for Week 2 is the same play I had Week 1 in all my cash games, and that is Sam Bradford. I absolutely love this spot for him. The total is set at a juicy 55.5 points, and that's even with Dez Bryant ruled out. Bradford and the Eagles offense was clicking in the second half vs. Atlanta, and we know how quick of a pace they play.

This will be the last week you can get Bradford (QB12) at a discount ($6,900). I honestly think Bradford is the safest bet for 300 yards this week. I'll have him rated as my No. 3 QB this week behind only Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers. I'll have a healthy dose of Jordan Matthews as well, and could pair the two together in both cash games and GPPs. The Eagles front-seven is pretty good against stopping the run, and I think Dallas takes some chances deep in this one, which could lead to some quick possessions. I'm a big fan of Terrance Williams in GPPs. I'm fading the DeMarco Murray revenge game, and actually believe Chip Kelly will go to the air more often using a little more play-action. My prediction is 350/3 for Bradford and at under 7K, that's a bargain.

Ryan Watterson - Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers ($4,000)

Woodhead has always been a key piece to the Chargers offense when healthy, and last week proved Melvin Gordon's presence isn't going to change that. Woodhead is not only the third-down back, but he also had 12 carries to Gordon's 14, and out-touched Gordon 6-0 last week in the red zone.

While I don't expect that to always be the case, it goes to show that Woodhead will not be forgotten in this offense. This week, the Chargers take on a tough Bengals D. I would expect a lot of third-down situations, meaning a lot of potential opportunities for Woodhead to put up solid receiving numbers, in addition to around 10 carries. It won't take much to create value at his current salary, and the upside is there for another big game.

Kevin Hanson - Lance Dunbar, RB, Dallas Cowboys

In last week's DFS Roundtable, I went with a high-priced running back (Jeremy Hill). This week, I'm going with a minimum-salary option in Dunbar. Playing 32 of the team's 71 offensive snaps last week, Dunbar didn't get any carries, but he racked up eight receptions for 70 yards against the Giants, which was good for 15 DraftKings points (PPR scoring). With Bryant out this week, Dunbar should once again be heavily involved in the passing attack. The Cowboys are 5.5-point underdogs in the game with this week's highest over/under. Given his position-minimum salary, Dunbar gives me plenty of flexibility to load up elsewhere.

Dan Yanotchko - Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals ($6,700)

This week, I am really loving Carson Palmer at $6,700. Palmer had a great Week 1, posting 307 yards passing and 3 touchdowns against the much-maligned New Orleans pass defense, and this week he gets an even worse pass defense in Chicago. I know Aaron Rodgers only had 189 yards last week, but he still threw for three touchdowns, and completed 78 percent of his throws. I love the Cardinals weapons in Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown, and I feel that with Andre Ellington out, the game plan is to air it out more.

Week 2 DFS cheat sheets:

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September 14, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: Some Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 2

With Week 1 nearly in the books, there are several key injuries that will have an impact on fantasy teams but also open up opportunities for players likely available on your league's waiver wire.

In this post, we attempt to identify players with a positive outlook that could help your fantasy team(s) in either the short or long term.

For a player to make this list, we will exclude any players that are owned in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

So, in other words, a player like Cincinnati's Tyler Eifert (86-percent owned) or Tampa's Austin Seferian-Jenkins (60-percent owned) won't appear on this list due to our self-imposed ownership requirements. The goal is to give you recommendations that are likely to be available in your league(s).

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 2 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

QB - Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (46 percent)

Things could have not gone better for Mariota in his NFL debut. With a sizable lead, Mariota threw only 16 pass attempts and sat out the fourth quarter, but he finished with a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Completing 13 of his 16 attempts, Mariota threw for 209 yards (13.06 Y/A), four (first-half) touchdowns and no interceptions.

Mariota had the third-most fantasy points among QBs through Sunday's games behind Tom Brady and Carson Palmer even though he ran the ball only twice for six yards. One of the league's most athletic signal-callers, Mariota's dual-threat abilities give him a high weekly ceiling although things likely won't go as easily in future starts.

QB - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (26 percent)

In his first four NFL seasons, Dalton finished as a top-20 fantasy quarterback every year with two top-12 finishes in 2012 (QB12) and 2013 (QB5). Last year was a disappointing season (QB19), but Dalton's top-three most-talented pass-catchers all missed significant time. One of those players was tight end Tyler Eifert, who finished Sunday's game with a 9/104/2 stat line. With good health for Eifert and A.J. Green, Dalton has a chance to finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback for the third time in four years, but there will be plenty of variance in his weekly performances.

QB - Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (20 percent)

With Jamaal Charles, Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin, Smith has a talented core group of skill-position players at his disposal. Smith efficiently completed 22-of-33 pass attempts for 243 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 1 against the Texans. In addition, Smith's 685 combined rushing yards in 2013 and 2014 rank fourth among quarterbacks over that span.

QB - Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (10 percent)

It was a solid debut as Taylor led the Bills to an upset over Andrew Luck and the Colts. Taylor threw only 19 pass attempts, but he also ran the ball nine times. Only Cam Newton ran the ball more times than Taylor in Week 1. While there will be plenty of games with less than 200 passing yards for Taylor this season, his rushing ability gives him some upside for folks in deeper leagues.

RB - Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (50 percent)

Two seasons ago, Woodhead finished with 1,034 yards from scrimmage, 76 receptions and eight touchdowns. While last year was cut short due to injury, Woodhead is healthy again and got the season off to a strong start with 62 YFS, four catches and two touchdowns. Woodhead has finished as a top-30 fantasy running back in three of the past five seasons and it wouldn't surprise me if he did so again this year.

RB - Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans (47 percent)

It's fair to say that Sankey exceeded my Week 1 expectations with 12 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown plus two receptions for 12 yards and another score. While 20-point fantasy performances won't become the norm, Sankey looked good on Sunday and gets a couple of favorable matchups against the Browns and Colts before Tennessee's Week 4 bye.

RB - Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (44 percent)

Generating plenty of offseason buzz, Johnson ranks as the all-time leading rusher for the Miami Hurricanes, which says plenty about his skill set. The ground game stalled against the Jets on Sunday and Johnson had just seven carries for 22 yards, but better days are ahead for the talented rookie back.

RB - David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (21 percent)

With Andre Ellington sustaining a PCL (knee) injury in the opener, Johnson should see more touches than the one he had on Sunday. Of course, Johnson made the most of that one touch -- a 55-yard touchdown reception. Ellington's PCL injury should sideline him for multiple weeks. While Chris Johnson is expected to get more work initially, I like David's talent and think his role will continue to expand.

RB - Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (31 percent)

Hillman averaged only 3.42 yards per carry against the Ravens on Sunday, but he did get 12 carries in Week 1. Not only is that identical to the carries for starter C.J. Anderson, but Hillman was more effective than CJA (2.42 YPC) on Sunday. At a minimum, Hillman, who had a strong preseason, should be owned by more CJA owners than is currently the case.

RB - Dion Lewis, New England Patriots (16 percent)

With LeGarrette Blount suspended for the season opener, Lewis led the team's backfield with 120 yards from scrimmage on 19 touches including four receptions. Returning from suspension, Blount should lead the backfield in touches the majority of weeks. That said, Lewis has some flex appeal in standard-scoring leagues as he fills the role vacated by Shane Vereen with more upside in PPR formats.

RB - Benny Cunningham, St. Louis Rams (16 percent)

With Todd Gurley expected to sit another week or two (if not more), Cunningham could be worth a look depending on the expected availability of Tre Mason for Week 2. Starting for the inactive Mason and Gurley, Cunningham racked up 122 yards from scrimmage on 20 touches against the Seahawks in Week 1. His Week 2 matchup against Washington isn't great, but it isn't worse than Sunday's matchup against Seattle.

WR - Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (12 percent)

With T.Y. Hilton (knee) is considered to be day-to-day (aren't we all?), it's possible/likely that he misses a game or two. Per ESPN's Mike Wells, Moncrief is expected to start in two-side sets if Hilton does miss time. The 22-year-old Moncrief had six catches for 46 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets in Week 1.

WR - James Jones, Green Bay Packers (31 percent)

After a disappointing season in Oakland (73/666/6 and a career-low 9.1 Y/A), Jones had a strong start to his first season back in Green Bay with four catches for 51 yards and two touchdowns. Jones has had plenty of red-zone success with the Packers as he led the NFL with 14 touchdowns in 2012 and his established chemistry with Aaron Rodgers is obviously a huge positive.

WR - Percy Harvin, Buffalo Bills (41 percent percent)

Harvin led the Bills receivers with five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown and added nine rushing yards. Given that Taylor only threw the ball 19 times in Week 1, however, it will be difficult to trust this type of production from Harvin on a weekly basis.

WR - Brandon Coleman, New Orleans Saints (27 percent)

Currently the Saints No. 3 receiver, Coleman has excellent size (6-6, 225) and could flourish in the red zone for the Saints this season. In his regular-season debut, Coleman finished with four catches on seven targets for 41 yards and a touchdown.

WR - Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys (eight percent)

With Dez Bryant breaking his foot and expected to miss four-to-six weeks, Terrance Williams (57-percent owned) and Beasley should both see a larger volume of targets over the next month. The fantasy schedule for the Cowboys receivers sets up favorably as well with their next three games against the Eagles, Falcons and Saints, all three of whom gave up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing receivers last year.

WR - Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (30 percent)

One of the most exciting playmakers in the game, Lockett has more value in dynasty formats than re-draft leagues. And while it's unlikely that he sees enough volume in the passing game to make a huge fantasy impact this season, he's worth a stash given his talent. In his regular-season debut, Lockett caught four passes for 34 yards and returned a punt for a score.

TE - Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (49 percent)

With Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant suspended in Week 1, Miller finished with eight receptions for 84 yards on 11 targets against the Patriots. Bell and Bryant remain suspended for one and three more games, respectively, so Miller should be a top-12 fantasy tight end for the next few games, at least, and I expect him to finish as a top-12 fantasy tight end in PPR formats this season.

TE - Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers (19 percent)

With Antonio Gates suspended for the first four games of the season, Green will have an opportunity to seize a larger role for himself following Gates' return with a strong performance during this stretch. So far, so good for Green, who converted six targets into five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.

TE - Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (eight percent)

A top-10 selection in last year's draft, Ebron has had issues with drops and had another in Week 1, but he also finished with four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers.

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Dez Bryant (broken foot) to miss the next 4-6 weeks

The Dallas Cowboys got the win Sunday Night against the New York Giants, but unfortunately they lost one of their best players for at least the next month.

Per Desmond Purnell of NFL Network, Dez Bryant broke his foot in last night's game.

Bryant will have surgery on his broken foot and he's expected to miss roughly four-to-six weeks.

While Bryant is sidelined, it will boost the volume of targets for tight end Jason Witten and wide receivers Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. Williams and Beasley are owned in 56 and seven percent of Yahoo! leagues, respectively.

Given their increase in volume and the favorable fantasy schedule ahead of them, both are worth adding if they are available on your waiver wire. The Cowboys face the Eagles, Falcons and Saints in their next three games and all three ranked in the top-seven in most fantasy points allowed to wide receivers last season.

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September 13, 2015

2015 NFL Division Predictions: NFC East

In an annual excercise in futility, I went through the NFL schedule for all 256 regular-season games and picked a winner for each game.

Based on a team's strength of schedule, it means that all teams with identical records are not viewed the same. In other words, one team with a projected 8-8 record may be much better than another team with a projected 8-8 record, as an example.

Although I'm posting this after one game is already in the books, I did correctly pick the winner of the season opener as part of my weekly picks against the spread.

With that said, here are my 2015 predictions for the NFC East:

1. Philadelphia Eagles: 12-4

It was a turbo-charged offseason for the Eagles as the Eagles turned over much of their roster. Out are guys like LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles and Evan Mathis and in are guys like DeMarco Murray, Sam Bradford, Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell. There are obvious durability question marks with Bradford, who has played only seven games in 2013 and 2014, and Murray, who touched the ball 497 times last season. With good health, the offense won't be a problem. The question remains on the defensive side of the ball. Largely due to their up-tempo offense, the Eagles' defense was on the field for nearly 70 plays per game and a league-worst time-of-possession percentage (55.55%).

2. Dallas Cowboys: 9-7

The Cowboys lost Murray to their division rivals, but their offensive line, arguably the best in football, got even better this offseason with the addition of La'el Collins. Meanwhile, Tony Romo is coming off a career-year in efficency; his 69.9 completion percentage, 113.2 passer rating, 7.8 touchdown percentage and 8.5 Y/A led the NFL. Dez Bryant is arguably the league's best receiver and he's been dominant in the red zone with 16 scores last season and a WR-high 50 touchdowns over the past four seasons. Like with the Eagles, the key for the Cowboys will be on the defensive side of the ball. Their run-control offense helped cut down their plays per game to 61.7 (from 67.0 in 2013).

3. New York Giants: 7-9

Going into the second season with Ben McAdoo's offense, the Giants should be able to score with anybody. Eli Manning got off to a slow start, but his 4,410 yards and 30 touchdowns were the second-best of his career. Of course, Odell Beckham won't repeat last year's historical production, but he's one of the best young receivers in the NFL and enters the season healthy. Like the other top teams in this division, the question marks are on the defensive side of the ball. Not only do the Giants have one of the worst safety situations in all of football, but what will they get from Jason Pierre-Paul after his fireworks accident this offseason?

4. Washington Redskins: 2-14

The most dysfunctional franchise in the NFC East (and NFL, for that matter), Washington goes into the season with Kirk Cousins -- not RG3 -- as their starting quarterback. There was even speculation that RG3 would be released and it's far from a lock that he remains on the roster all season. Cousins had some good games last season, but he will need to cut down on turnovers. In six games, Cousins threw three-plus interceptions in two of them. The challenge on defense will be for a secondary that allowed a league-high 35 passing touchdowns last season.

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2015 NFL Division Predictions: NFC North

In an annual excercise in futility, I went through the NFL schedule for all 256 regular-season games and picked a winner for each game.

Based on a team's strength of schedule, it means that all teams with identical records are not viewed the same. In other words, one team with a projected 8-8 record may be much better than another team with a projected 8-8 record, as an example.

Although I'm posting this after one game is already in the books, I did correctly pick the winner of the season opener as part of my weekly picks against the spread.

With that said, here are my 2015 predictions for the NFC North:

1. Green Bay Packers: 12-4

No team scored more points than the Packers (30.4/G) last season. While the Packers will obviously miss Jordy Nelson, who tore his ACL in the preseason, they are still loaded on offense with the league's reigning MVP (Aaron Rodgers), Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy. While Rodgers doesn't turn the ball over, the Packers have done an excellent job at taking the ball away. No team had a better turnover differential than the Packers (+14) last season.

2. Detroit Lions: 9-7

The Lions led the NFL in rushing defense (69.3 YPG) last season and ranked second in total defense (300.9 YPG). Losing their top-three defensive tackles including one of the best defensive players in the NFL (Ndamukong Suh), the Lions added Haloti Ngata to fill part of the void, but it's unlikely that the run defense will be as dominant as it was last year. On offense, the health of Calvin Johnson will be key. Megatron missed three games and was a decoy in a couple of others, but he and Golden Tate gave the team a pair of 1,000-yard receivers. Rookie Ameer Abdullah is an upgrade over Reggie Bush and he has the talent to eventually overtake Joique Bell as the team's lead back.

3. Minnesota Vikings: 8-8

The Vikings have a strong chance to finish second in the division, but things are clearly headed in the right direction. Not only did Teddy Bridgewater close his rookie season strong, but he was incredibly sharp in the preseason (82.9 completion percentage). And the return of Adrian Peterson, one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, will help take pressure off of Bridgewater.

4. Chicago Bears: 4-12

It was a disappointing season for the Bears, which led to a change in regime. Unfortunately, things are not looking much better for them heading into 2015, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Only the Raiders (28.3/G) allowed more points per game than the Bears (27.6) last season and they finished 30th in total defense (377.1 YPG) as well. One of the biggest keys for the Bears in 2015 will be Jay Cutler's ability to cut down on turnovers after throwing a league-high 18 interceptions.

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2015 NFL Division Predictions: AFC West

In an annual excercise in futility, I went through the NFL schedule for all 256 regular-season games and picked a winner for each game.

Based on a team's strength of schedule, it means that all teams with identical records are not viewed the same. In other words, one team with a projected 8-8 record may be much better than another team with a projected 8-8 record, as an example.

Although I'm posting this after one game is already in the books, I did correctly pick the winner of the season opener as part of my weekly picks against the spread.

With that said, here are my 2015 predictions for the AFC West:

1. Kansas City Chiefs: 10-6

The addition of Jeremy Maclin in free agency significantly boosts a receiving corps that failed to catch a single touchdown pass in 2014. With Maclin, Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce, the Chiefs have a talented group of skill-position players, but there are plenty of question marks along their offensive line. The group had the second-worst pass-blocking grade from PFF and finished in the bottom-10 in run blocking. With Justin Houston, who led the NFL in sacks (22.0) last season, and Tamba Hali, the Chiefs have the ability to really get after the quarterback.

2. Denver Broncos: 10-6

The Broncos will get at least one more season from Peyton Manning, who accepted a pay cut this offseason. Slowed by a nagging thigh injury at the end of last season, Manning has been a much better regular-season, warm-weather quarterback in general, but they will rely more heavily upon C.J. Anderson and their ground game this year. The Broncos have the talent to win the AFC, but they will be able to peak going into January when it matters the most?

3. San Diego Chargers: 7-9

While there was some uncertainty about this future beyond 2015, the Chargers extended the contract of franchise quarterback Philip Rivers. Historically, the Chargers have started slowly and finished strong. Rivers is 34-32 in his career in September and October games and he's 35-10 in December and January games. The Chargers have some difficult matchups in their first six games including games against the Lions, Bengals, Vikings, Steelers and Packers. Can they avoid a slow start to the season?

4. Oakland Raiders: 3-13

The projected record doesn't show it, but I do think the Raiders are headed in the right direction with some talented young players like Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. And the Raiders took a flyer on Aldon Smith, one of the most talented pass-rushers on the field and one of the most-troubled players off it. Second-year quarterback Derek Carr posted a solid TD-to-INT ratio (21:12), but he averaged only 5.5 Y/A as a rookie.

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2015 NFL Division Predictions: AFC South

In an annual excercise in futility, I went through the NFL schedule for all 256 regular-season games and picked a winner for each game.

Based on a team's strength of schedule, it means that all teams with identical records are not viewed the same. In other words, one team with a projected 8-8 record may be much better than another team with a projected 8-8 record, as an example.

Although I'm posting this after one game is already in the books, I did correctly pick the winner of the season opener as part of my weekly picks against the spread.

With that said, here are my 2015 predictions for the AFC South:

1. Indianapolis Colts: 13-3

With the Colts, it starts with Andrew Luck and the offense. The Colts ranked first in the NFL in both passing yardage (4,894) and passing touchdowns (42) in Luck's third season, but ranked only 22nd in the NFL in rushing. While Andre Johnson and Phillip Dorsett help to improve the receiving corps, the addition of Frank Gore really helps to boost their rushing attack. The 32-year-old Gore has been durable playing every game over the past four seasons with at least 1,100 rushing yards in each of those seasons. While their offense as good as anybody's, their defense isn't despite ranking in the top-five in the NFL of team salary cap allocated to the defensive side of the ball.

2. Houston Texans: 8-8

Not only do the Texans have the best defensive player in football with J.J. Watt, but they have one of the league's best running backs in Arian Foster, when healthy. There is optimism that Foster will only miss a few games to starting the season following last month's groin surgery. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the league's better young receivers, but sub-par quarterback play could hold this team back from realizing its potential, however.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-12

Blake Bortles looked good in the preseason and his continued development will be key for the Jags to improve upon their 3-13 season. While I expect Allen Robinson to make a huge sophomore leap, the Jags will be without big free-agent signing Julius Thomas for a month to start the season. While their defense ranked sixth in the league in sacks last season, they lack true difference-makers and unfortunately Dante Fowler, the third overall pick this year, was lost for the season.

4. Tennessee Titans: 2-14

There are reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Titans and that starts with Marcus Mariota, the second-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. The early transition to the NFL has gone better than many have expected in the offseason and preseason for Mariota, but there will still be typical rookie ups and downs. It was good to see the Titans re-sign Derrick Morgan and add Brian Orakpo, but their run defense remains a question mark. Only the Browns allowed more rushing yards last season.

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2015 NFL Division Predictions: NFC South

In an annual excercise in futility, I went through the NFL schedule for all 256 regular-season games and picked a winner for each game.

Based on a team's strength of schedule, it means that all teams with identical records are not viewed the same. In other words, one team with a projected 8-8 record may be much better than another team with a projected 8-8 record, as an example.

Although I'm posting this after one game is already in the books, I did correctly pick the winner of the season opener as part of my weekly picks against the spread.

With that said, here are my 2015 predictions for the NFC South:

1. New Orleans Saints: 9-7

Over the past few seasons, the Saints have alternated between 7-9 seasons (2014, 2012) and seasons with double-digit wins (2013, 2009-2011). The team has shaken things up on offense this offseason by trading away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, but adding Max Unger in return for Graham helps protect Drew Brees up the middle and bodes well for the ground game. If Brandin Cooks stays healthy for the full season, he could finish with 100-plus catches as the team's clear-cut top option in the passing game. Despite the offensive changes, the Saints should be able to score with the best of them, but how much will their 31st-ranked defense improve year over year?

2. Atlanta Falcons: 8-8

As bad as the Saints defense was, the Falcons were worse (32nd out of 32 teams). The glass-half-full view is that it can't get worse. Seriously though, they drafted Vic Beasley (Round 1), Jalen Collins (Round 2) and Grady Jarrett (Round 5) and hired Dan Quinn so the long-term outlook for the defense is positive, but they could still be a bottom-half defense in 2015. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones should combine for 100-plus catches and 1,500-plus yards once again so the offense should once again be a top-10 offense.

3. Carolina Panthers: 8-8

The Panthers have won the NFC South two years in a row, but they did so last year with a losing record. Going into 2015, the loss of Kelvin Benjamin to a torn ACL means the Panthers will have one of the league's weakest receiving corps. Based on my projections, they will reach .500, but it won't be enough to extend their streak to three seasons atop the division.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-10

Naturally, there will be some ups and downs with a rookie quarterback and Jameis Winston needs to limit the turnovers, but the long-term outlook for the Bucs passing attack improves with Winston under center. Not only does Winston have a pair of 6-foot-5 receivers in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson on the outside, but Doug Martin has looked closer to his 2012 version this preseason. The big concern with the offense, however, is the team's offensive line.

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2015 NFL Division Predictions: NFC West

In an annual excercise in futility, I went through the NFL schedule for all 256 regular-season games and picked a winner for each game.

Based on a team's strength of schedule, it means that all teams with identical records are not viewed the same. In other words, one team with a projected 8-8 record may be much better than another team with a projected 8-8 record, as an example.

Although I'm posting this after one game is already in the books, I did correctly pick the winner of the season opener as part of my weekly picks against the spread.

With that said, here are my 2015 predictions for the NFC West:

1. Seattle Seahawks: 11-5

They say it's a game of inches. For the Seahawks, they were a yard (and a play) away from repeating as back-to-back Super Bowl champions. The addition of Jimmy Graham gives them their best red-zone option (outside of Marshawn Lynch) in the Russell Wilson era. Tyler Lockett gives the special teams juice as he has provided the type of big plays in the preseason that they expected when they traded for Percy Harvin. This is a young talented team that currently stands as the co-favorite (according to Vegas) to win Super Bowl 50.

2. Arizona Cardinals: 11-5

Only a head coach for two-plus years (including his unexpected interim head-coaching stint with the Colts), Bruce Arians has won the AP NFL Coach of the Year award twice. Injuries overall and at quarterback specifically derailed last year's strong start. If Carson Palmer can stay healthy for 16 games, the Cardinals can challenge for the division.

3. St. Louis Rams: 7-9

The Rams used a top-10 pick on franchise running back Todd Gurley, who is returning from a torn ACL. At the moment, it appears he'll miss at least the first three games of the season. Eventually, Gurley and Tre Mason will give their rushing attack a talented duo. Their defense is one of the league's best with arguably the best defensive line in football. Ultimately, the play of Nick Foles could determine whether the Rams have another mediocre season or take a step forward to challenge for a playoff spot.

4. San Francisco 49ers: 4-12

If the offseason is any indication of what's to come for the Niners this season, it's going to be a long year. I can't ever remember a team go through the amount of offseason changes at key spots for a variety of reasons (retirement, free agency, off-field issues, etc.) as the 49ers have over the past nine months. There were few bright spots in the preseason and the offense really struggled as Colin Kaepernick completed just 38.5 percent of his pass attempts for a 3.1 Y/A average.

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2015 NFL Division Predictions: AFC North

In an annual excercise in futility, I went through the NFL schedule for all 256 regular-season games and picked a winner for each game.

Based on a team's strength of schedule, it means that all teams with identical records are not viewed the same. In other words, one team with a projected 8-8 record may be much better than another team with a projected 8-8 record, as an example.

Although I'm posting this after one game is already in the books, I did correctly pick the winner of the season opener as part of my weekly picks against the spread.

With that said, here are my 2015 predictions for the AFC North:

1. Baltimore Ravens: 11-5

Since taking over as quarterback and coach, Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh have made the postseason in six of seven seasons. Flacco's regular-season stats are decent, but he has become an elite quarterback in the postseason. Since the 2010 playoffs, Flacco has thrown 24 touchdowns to only four interceptions over 10 playoff games. While they lack elite offensive weapons, their offensive line graded fourth and seventh by PFF last year in run and pass blocking, respectively. Tied for second in the league in sacks (49), the duo of Terrell Suggs (12.0) and Elvis Dumervil (17.0) combined for more than half that total, but the key on defense will be the health of Jimmy Smith and their secondary.

2. Cincinnati Bengals: 11-5

Since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2011, Dalton has started all 64 regular-season games for the Bengals and has helped lead the team to four consecutive playoff appearances. That said, the Bengals have lost all four of those playoff games. While it's not solely Dalton's fault, the offense has no more than 13 points in any of those games and Dalton has thrown just one touchdown and six interceptions. Over the past four seasons, only Eli Manning (72) has thrown more interceptions than Dalton (66). Dalton's top-three pass-catchers going into 2015, however, missed a total of 34 games last season. Their rushing attack should be one of the best this season led by second-year back Jeremy Hill, who led the NFL in rushing yards over the final nine games of the season, and change-of-pace option Giovani Bernard.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6

No team enters 2015 with a tougher strength of schedule based on the cumulative 2014 record of their opponents than the Steelers. From 1993-2012, the Steelers ranked in the top-12 in total defense every year and first in total defense in four of the final six years of that span. In 2013 and 2014, however, they ranked 13th and 18th in total defense, respectively. Relying on their offense, Ben Roethlisberger set a career high in passing yards (4,952) and tied Drew Brees for the NFL lead. And while the Steelers have tons of talent on offense, Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant are suspended for the first two and four games, respectively, while center Maurkice Pouncey will miss at least the first half of the season due to injury.

4. Cleveland Browns: 3-13

The Browns started 2014 with a 7-5 record, but they closed the season with a five-game losing streak. Starting quarterback Josh McCown threw more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (11) for the Bucs last year. The Browns should have some success running the ball with Isaiah Crowell and rookie Duke Johnson behind an excellent offensive line, but their No. 1 receiver is Dwayne Bowe with Josh Gordon suspended for the 2015 season. No team had fewer passing touchdowns than the Browns (12) last season. The addition of Danny Shelton should really help the Browns run defense, but no team allowed more rushing yards (141.6/G) last season than Cleveland.

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2015 NFL Division Predictions: AFC East

In an annual excercise in futility, I went through the NFL schedule for all 256 regular-season games and picked a winner for each game.

Based on a team's strength of schedule, it means that all teams with identical records are not viewed the same. In other words, one team with a projected 8-8 record may be much better than another team with a projected 8-8 record, as an example.

Although I'm posting this after one game is already in the books, I did correctly pick the winner of the season opener as part of my weekly picks against the spread.

With that said, here are my 2015 predictions for the AFC East:

1. New England Patriots: 13-3

Tom Brady. Bill Belichick. Without question, Brady & Belichick form the best QB/coach duo in the AFC East and in the NFL, for that matter. Since 2001, the Patriots have a winning record every season, 12 consecutive seasons with double-digit wins and four Super Bowls including the most recent. Going back to 2001, no team has won more games by double digits than the Patriots (102); the Packers and Steelers are tied for second (82).

2. Miami Dolphins: 10-6

Over the past 13 seasons, the Dolphins have one playoff appearance (2008), which coincides with the year that Brady tore his ACL in Week 1. The one thing that the Dolphins have over the other challengers to the Patriots' recent dominance within the AFC East is they have the best quarterback situation, by far. Not only has Ryan Tannehill's numbers have improved each season, but Lamar Miller gave them their first 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush (2011). The addition of Ndamukong Suh in free agency immediately makes the rest of the defense better and it wouldn't surprise me if Cameron Wake set a new career high in sacks with the attention that Suh will receive.

3. Buffalo Bills: 10-6

Rex Ryan inherits one of the league's best defenses. Defense has never been a problem for a Ryan-coached team, however. The Bills ranked fourth in the NFL in both scoring and total defense and they should once again be a top-four defense (or better) in 2015. What has been a challenge is the offense and more specifically, the quarterback play. While Tyrod Taylor played the best of the bunch, beating out Matt Cassel, who has been released, and EJ Manuel shows the state of the team's quarterback situation. With Taylor at the helm, the Bills will likely play conservative on offense and his athletic ability should help to open up rushing lanes for LeSean McCoy, who could lead the NFL in rush attempts this season.

4. New York Jets: 4-12

I like the moves the Jets made in the offseason, highlighted by the return of Darrelle Revis (and Antonio Cromartie) to shore up what was a horrible secondary last season. Their defensive line has been the strength of the defense for a couple of years, but the status of Sheldon Richardson (beyond his current four-game suspension) is up in the air. The trade for Brandon Marshall as their No. 1 receiver to pair with Eric Decker gives them their best group of pass-catchers in recent memory, but their quarterback situation is less than ideal with Ryan Fitzpatrick starting over Geno Smith, who had his jaw broken by a (now former) teammate.

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 1 (Yanotchko)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season:

Green Bay Packers -7 over Chicago Bears (4 units)

Week 1 is here, and the most exciting thing about this game is that the commissioner Roger Goodell will be in the building. In all seriousness, the Packers have dominated the Bears on the scoreboard recently, as they have posted totals of 33, 38 and 55 points in their last three games. And Aaron Rodgers threw 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in his two games against the Bears last season.

The Bears should be better on defense this year, as they have new head coach John Fox, but their pass defense still has a long way to go after being 30th in the league last year giving up an average of 264 yards per game. The Bears receiving corps will also be banged up with no Kevin White, and Alshon Jeffrey is questionable. I love the Pack on the road this week, and they should post a solid win, so I'm laying the points.

Buffalo Bills +3 over Indianapolis Colts (2 units)

I know the consensus out there is going for the Colts here this week, but I think this is one of the classic Bills flip-the-script game. The Bills will certainly be relevant in the media after hiring Rex Ryan, and he brings two things to town always, a love for the ground-and-pound run game, and a tough defensive game plan.

The Colts still need to prove that they can stop the run, as they gave up 4.3 yards per carry last year, and 113 yards per game. The news also got worse for Indy, as top run stopper Arthur Jones is out of the year, and it's been announced that LeSean McCoy will be up and active for week 1. I think that this will be a big Shady type of day, and also Rex Ryan has had all offseason to game plan for Andrew Luck. I won't be surprised if the Colts pull this one out, but Buffalo will be close the whole way throughout.

Miami Dolphins -3.5 over Washington Redskins (3 units)

It's been quite a sideshow this offseason in Washington, and it seems that they have finally settled on their quarterback in Kirk Cousins, and RG3 is still not cleared to play after suffering a concussion. The Dolphins will be looking to take the next step this year, as they made the biggest splash in free agency by signing Ndamukong Suh away from the Detroit Lions.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been progressing each of his professional years, and now he has the weapons to make the leap in Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, DeVante Parker and Greg Jennings. Tannehill is where I think this matchup will be won, as Washington was weak against the pass last year, they gave up 249 yards per game, and also allowed 35 touchdowns with only 7 passes intercepted. I really like the Dolphins this week, as I think Washington is a mess, and Miami will be able to exploit them through the air.

- Note: We will track all of our 2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread here.

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September 12, 2015

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 1 Values for DraftKings Contests

The long wait to the 2015 NFL season is over. We have one (high-scoring) game in the books and 255 regular-season games to go.

With DFS sites like DraftKings setting their Week 1 salaries prior to the preseason, there are a number of values for this weekend's slate of games due to injuries opening up opportunties for their (healthy) teammates or players earning larger/starting roles for themselves.

Finding lower-priced options is key to being able to afford higher-priced studs in your lineups so I'll attempt to identify some players that I feel are undervalued — priced lower than expectations — for Week 1.

In general, the players listed in this post will have lower salaries, but I am looking for relative values — not only absolute values.

With that said, here are some of my favorite value plays for Week 1:

QB - Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG), $7,300

With the 12th-highest salary among QBs this week, Romo is my fourth-ranked fantasy QB and one of my top-three QBs (Tom Brady) has already played this week. In two games against the Giants last season, Romo threw only 49 pass attempts combined, but he threw seven touchdowns to only one interception and averaged 11.31 yards per attempt. Only the Eagles have a higher projected point total for this weekend's games than the Cowboys. In what should be one of the week's highest-scoring affairs, Romo should carve up a depleted Giants defense in primetime.

QB - Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles (at ATL), $6,900

Speaking of high-scoring contests in primetime, Bradford and the Eagles will take on the Falcons in the first of Monday's two night games. We've seen how productive the Eagles quarterbacks can be in Chip Kelly's system over the past two years and Bradford is the most talented of the group that Kelly has had thus far. Ranking last in the NFL in pass defense (279.9 YPG) in 2014, the Falcons may offer little resistance to the Eagles' fast-paced offense.

QB - Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (vs. IND), $5,000

If you want to punt the position, Taylor is viable option at the position-minimum salary. Earning the starting gig this preseason, Taylor has upside even if the Bills play conservatively on offense due to his dual-threat abilities. While the other quarterback in this game will have to face an elite defense, Taylor gets to face a defense that is anything but elite.

RB - Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. TEN), $4,500

I love some higher-priced studs like Eddie Lacy and Jeremy Hill and I've paired those guys with a lower-priced option like Martin in many of my lineups. Since a dominant rookie season (1,926 YFS and 12 TDs) in 2012, it's been a disappointing and injury-plagued two seasons for Martin, but things are pointing up with a strong offseason and preseason. Opening the season against the Titans, who ranked 31st last year in run defense, Martin gets a soft matchup in a game where he should get a heavy volume of work as their rookie quarterback makes his NFL debut.

RB - Christopher Ivory, New York Jets (vs. CLE), $4,100

The only team that allowed more rushing yards than the Titans last season was the Browns. While their run defense will be better than last year with the first-round selection of Danny Shelton, it's still a favorable matchup for Ivory and the Jets backfield. Ivory finished as a top-24 fantasy running back in PPR formats last season and I expect an increase in workload from the 13.5 touches per game he averaged in 2014.

RB - Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (vs. DET), $3,700

Woodhead's 2014 season was cut short due to injury, but he was one of the better fantasy running backs in PPR formats in his first season with the Chargers. In 2013, Woodhead had 1,034 YFS, 76 receptions and eight touchdowns. Even though the Chargers drafted Melvin Gordon with a top-15 selection, Woodhead will get the bulk of third-down snaps with many snaps inside the red zone as well.

WR - Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (at WAS), $5,600

Except for his former LSU teammate Odell Beckham, Landry had more receptions than all other rookie receivers in 2014. Going into 2015, Landry is the only constant among the team's top pass-catchers and Landry finished with 84/758/5 as a rookie. Over the final nine games of the season, Landry had a minimum of five receptions in every game and averaged 6.55/55.89/0.50 per game over that stretch. Last season, Washington allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers (PPR scoring).

WR - Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. CAR), $5,400

One of my favorite breakout players for 2015, Robinson just turned 22 last month and quietly had a strong rookie season before a Week 10 foot injury ended his season prematurely. Before the injury, Robinson had a minimum of four catches in eight consecutive games in an offense that otherwise struggled. While they signed free-agent Julius Thomas to a large contract in the offseason, Thomas will miss the first several games and Robinson should be heavily targeted in Week 1. With the 37th-highest salary among wideouts, Robinson is my 12th-ranked receiver for this week.

WR - Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (at CHI), $4,400

With his playing time increasing down the stretch last season, Adams strong offseason suggested he would take a big step forward in 2015. With the season-ending ACL injury to Jordy Nelson, that improvement became certain with good health as Adams now will start opposite Randall Cobb in two-WR sets. Although Adams is ranked inside my top-24 receivers for the week, he's priced as the WR49 in DraftKings contests this week.

WR - Stevie Johnson, San Diego Chargers (vs. DET), $3,700

There are 64 receivers priced higher than Johnson, who should be able to easily exceed value this week. Johnson will take over the role vacated by Eddie Royal, a player that I like this week as well and who finished as the WR32 in PPR leagues last season. And with the four-game suspension of Antonio Gates, there's another reason to like Johnson this week.

TE - Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (vs. GB), $4,300

It appears that Alshon Jeffery will play on Sunday, but calf injuries are fairly easy to aggravate. But with Brandon Marshall traded this offseason and Jeffery at less than 100 percent, Bennett should figure prominently into the game plan with the Bears being a touchdown underdog. In two games against the Packers last season, Bennett, who led all tight ends in receptions (90) in 2014, had 11 catches for 179 yards (16.27 Y/A) on 17 targets.

TE - Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (at OAK), $3,500

Eifert is one of my favorite breakout players at tight end this season and I think his breakout would have happened last season were he not injured in Week 1. With a solid matchup, Eifert is one of my favorite tight end plays this weekend.

- Check out our DraftKings DFS Cheat Sheet for Week 1

Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings:

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September 10, 2015

7 Undervalued Options in PPR Leagues for Week 1

Welcome to a brand new season! I can’t tell you how excited I am that the season is finally upon us, seems like it took ages to get through the preseason. I am equally excited and honored to return for my second season with EDSFootball. I want to thank Kevin Hanson for allowing me the opportunity to continue contributing as a fantasy analyst.

For those that are new to the article, I publish a weekly breakdown of undervalued PPR players. I select a few players from each skill position who I believe to be undervalued for the given week. In addition, I will identify a few players currently ranked ahead of them, for which I would bench in favor of the undervalued player. All rankings are based on the FantasyPros.com Expert Consensus Ranking (ECR).

Finally, I will also be tracking my performance each week. Performance will be measured by comparing the points scored by the undervalued player against the points scored by each player I recommend benching. The results will be calculated on a weekly and year-to-date basis. With so much fantasy advice available these days, it can be hard to know who to trust. Many analysts make bold predictions or identify sleepers, but without an established track record of performance, it’s hard to know who to trust. My goal is to own my performance, for better or for worse. The performance tracking will be available beginning in Week 2!

Now, on to Week 1. To me, the first week of any season represents one of the most challenging weeks as an analyst. As the season goes on, there is more relevant information to base decisions on. Week 1 has very little recent information to work with, the preseason can only be trusted to a very limited extent. Most of the information is based on 2014 performances and pure speculation of circumstance. With the countless changes in personnel, head coaches, and coordinators, it definitely makes for a unique challenge in projecting Week 1 performances. But, I have always enjoyed a good challenge, so here we go!

Quarterbacks

Typically, I like to pick 2 QBs, but there are not many this week that deviate significantly from the ECR. So, instead of trying to conjure up another player, I stuck with just the one this week.

Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins
FantasyPros ECR – 8

Tannehill is setup to have a big season, and a matchup with the Washington Redskins in Week 1 should be a fine launching pad. The Redskins are a mess, and haven’t made any significant improvements to a defense that gave up the most FPPG to QBs last year, and finished last in pass defense DVOA. Tannehill was a bit raw coming out of college, but has steadily improved each season and looks to be coming into form. He will be more comfortable in the offense entering the second season with OC Bill Lazor, who runs a pass-happy, up-tempo offense. Pair that with an underrated receiving corps and you have a QB that could crack the top 3 in Week 1.

Consider starting him over:
Peyton Manning – ECR 6. Baltimore’s defense isn’t great, but much better than the Redskins. Kubiak wants a much more balanced offense and they will try to preserve Manning throughout the season to avoid the late-season slump, so I see Manning’s pass attempts descending again this year.
Andrew Luck – ECR 2. Crazy? Probably, but it’s a calculated risk. I still like Luck as the No. 1 overall QB this year, but this is a tough opening matchup. The Bills were the No. 1 team in pass defense DVOA, and third in FPPG allowed to QBs. Luck’s passer rating is 7 points lower on the road than at home. Still a top-10 QB this week, but I don’t think he will go gangbusters.

Running Backs

Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints
FantasyPros ECR – 17

Ingram finished as a top-15 back last year, despite only playing in 13 games. He displayed the talent we all expected from him earlier in his career, but better late than never. With C.J. Spiller out for Week 1, Ingram will play an expanded role and likely become a three-down back. Ingram has been recognized this offseason for improving his receiving skills, which will give him more opportunities to produce this week. While the Arizona defense is solid, the Saints offense is still really good and will be able to move the ball. I expect we will see 20-plus touches from Ingram, with a handful of catches sprinkled in. That, combined with the goal-line work, gives him RB1 upside this week.

Consider starting him over:
Frank Gore – ECR 14. Again, tough matchup. The Bills were sixth in FPPG against RBs last year, and their D may even be better this season. Indy has already indicated he will be on a pitch count to open the season, and let’s not forget he is 32 with a lot of wear on the tires. He may be in a top offense, but there are enough concerns to make me weary of him this week.
LeSean McCoy – ECR 13. The Bills passing game doesn’t scare anyone, and Indy has the talent in the secondary to play one-on-one and allow them to stack the box. McCoy likely won’t be 100 percent and may even share some of the load as a result. I expect closer to RB2 numbers than RB1 this week.

Darren McFadden – Dallas Cowboys
FantasyPros ECR – 36

By now, we all know this much – McFadden’s risk isn’t about talent, it’s about health. Well, he’s at least healthy for Week 1 – how long that will last is another story. Reports are stating he will be the starter, and that he will not be on a pitch count. I would still expect a split of some sort, but regardless, this is still a talented back running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. Last year, the Giants ranked 27th in run defense DVOA and gave up the eighth-most FPPG to RBs. Even if he is limited to 15 carries, McFadden has the opportunity to produce well, as long as he is healthy. He’s worth a look as a flex.

Consider starting him over:
Tre Mason – ECR 35. Not much of a stretch in terms of ECR difference, but if you are deciding between the 2 players, go with McFadden. Mason is hurt and going up against a Seattle defense that is still one of the best against the run.
Joseph Randle – ECR 33. A lot of people handcuffed Randle with McFadden. If McFadden does end up getting the start, this is a week where you want to start him, even if Randle was drafted higher.

Wide Receivers

Jarvis Landry – Miami Dolphins
FantasyPros ECR – 13

As mentioned previously, the Redskins stink against the pass. Landry is the unquestioned No. 1 WR on this team and has a strong rapport with Tannehill. The ‘Skins ranked 29th against WR1's in DVOA last season and gave up the second-most FPPG. This sets up very favorably for Landry to crack the top 10 this week.

Consider starting him over:
DeAndre Hopkins – ECR 9. I get that Hopkins produced well despite his QB situation last season, but it still hasn’t gotten much better. At least Andre Johnson and Arian Foster prevented defenses from focusing their sole attention on Hopkins last year. He doesn’t have that luxury this week, so expect KC to take Hopkins away and let Cecil Shorts/Nate Washington/Alfred Blue try to beat them.
Alshon Jeffery – ECR 12. There are just too many unknowns to feel confident in Jeffery as a sure fire WR1 this week. We don’t know how healthy he will be, we don’t know how the new offense will impact him, and we don’t know which Jay Cutler will show up. Similar to Hopkins, Jeffery loses a player that helped take attention away in Brandon Marshall. Not sure the Packers are all that scared of Eddie Royal, so I expect them to shadow Jeffery with a safety over the top.

Nelson Agholor – Philadelphia Eagles
FantasyPros ECR – 31

Agholor is the clear-cut No. 2 in a top-notch offense that can definitely support multiple fantasy WRs. He also gets to start his NFL career against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. The Falcons were bottom-six in DVOA and FPPG against WRs in 2014, and I don’t expect much to change. In addition, while the Falcons were terrible against the pass in general, they actually defended opponents No. 1 WRs pretty well, ranking eighth in DVOA. Conversely, they were 28th against WR 2's. Jordan Matthews will draw the top coverage from Atlanta, which could leave Agholor with a lot of opportunity.

Consider starting him over:
Brandon Marshall – ECR 25. Marshall will draw Joe Haden, one of the best corners in the league. Cleveland isn’t nearly as strong on the other side, where the Jets have a more than capable Eric Decker. On top of all this, its not like this will be a high-scoring game. Both teams will lean on their defense throughout, and given Cleveland’s ineptitude on offense, the Jets won’t need to do much offensively.
Sammy Watkins – ECR 27. Tyrod Taylor is his QB and he will draw Vontae Davis. Not a situation that gets me too excited.

Rueben Randle – New York Giants
FantasyPros ECR – 44

I’m a little baffled by his current ranking. Victor Cruz isn’t likely to play this week, leaving Randle wide open for No. 2 duties on a pass-friendly offense. While Randle didn’t breakout to the level some expected last season, he still showed improvement, especially late in the season. He was talented coming out of college, but needed some time to adjust to the NFL. While Dallas was better than expected defensively last year, they still ranked in the bottom third in pass defense DVOA. While they were middle of the road against WR1’s, they were downright awful against No. 2’s. Brandon Carr is a solid DB who will shadow OBJ, and I expect a safety over the top for much of the game. Randle will see plenty of single coverage against a defense that ranked 29th in DVOA against WR2’s, and that was before Orlando Scandrick was placed on IR.

Consider starting him over:
Eric Decker – ECR 35. While I mentioned Decker as having a favorable matchup previously, the expected flow of the game works against him.
Marques Colston – ECR 42. Colston has been running as the WR3 in the preseason and his age is creeping upward. It seems we will continue to witness a decline in production from him, as he is no longer a top option on this offense.

Tight End

Heath Miller – Pittsburgh Steelers
FantasyPros ECR - 11

Admittedly, there weren’t many undervalued TEs this week. My rankings only vary slightly from the ECR, so there was no one that significantly stood out. But, I wanted to at least provide one option. So, I went with Heath Miller as his situation gives him a good opportunity. This game projects to be a high-scoring affair with the second highest O/U on the week at 51 total points. This makes sense as both offenses are strong, finishing in the top-seven PPG in 2014.

Additionally, both defenses have some question marks. The Steelers were mediocre last season and had some eye-raising performances in the preseason. Namely, letting the combination of Tyrod Taylor/Matt Cassel/EJ Manuel drop 43 points on them in the preseason dress rehearsal. While it is tough to glean much from the preseason, it says a lot about their talent on the defensive side of the ball. From New England’s perspective, they were very good last season, but lost both starting cornerbacks to free agency. It’s reasonable to expect some regression, at least early in the season.

All that said, Miller could have a lot of targets in this high-scoring game. The Patriots struggled against TEs last season, giving up the ninth-most FPPG and ranking 30th in DVOA. Big Ben trusts Miller and even though the Patriots secondary has a lot of question marks, their pass rush should be very good, forcing Ben to get rid of the ball quickly. Miller could see a number of balls in the short to intermediate levels for solid PPR production.

Consider starting him over:
Larry Donnell – ECR 10. Donnell had a strong start to the season last year, but faded away as the season wore on. Over the last eight games, Donnell only topped 10 points twice, including a Week 12 game against Dallas where he scored 4.4 points.

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 1! Follow me on Twitter @rw11687.

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September 09, 2015

DFS Roundtable: Favorite DraftKings Play for Week 1

One of the benefits of playing daily fantasy football in Week 1 is that prices were set more than a month ago, which leads to plenty of cheap options.

Going into Week 1 this year, the most obvious bargain is Green Bay's Davante Adams. I'd expect Adams to be the most-owned play in cash games and GPPs alike.

There was plenty of buzz with Adams in the offseason (as Coach McCarthy dubbed him MVP of the OTAs) and he continued that momentum into training camp. With the torn ACL injury that cost Jordy Nelson his season, however, Adams immediately moves into the starting lineup opposite Randall Cobb. As the No. 2 receiver in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense, Adams should exceed 1,000 yards in his sophomore campaign.

For Week 2, Adams will be priced much higher than his bargain $4,400 salary for this week.

Every week this season, our contributors will give their favorite plays for the week in DraftKings contests.

Q: Who is your favorite DraftKings play (aside from Adams) for Week 1?

Sean Beazley - Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($4,500)

There are a number of easy targets to pick Week 1. I expect Packers WR Davante Adams ($4,400) to be heavily owned in cash games, and he will be locked in on all of mine. I tend to play more tournaments than cash games, so for these roundtable questions, I will be focusing on tournament plays that I like. Finding value like all daily games is the key to success, but in tournaments, you need to differentiate yourself with the field if you want to place higher.

My favorite this week is Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin at a bargain price of $4,500. I think Martin will be very low-owned this week considering there are some other great value plays right around the same price. (Chris Ivory being one of them.) Martin has looked very sharp this preseason and he should be poised to have a big game vs. the Titans, who were 31st in the NFL against the run last year. The Titans added defensive legend Dick LeBeau to their coaching staff. And they have also made some good offseason moves (Brian Orakpo, re-signing Derrick Morgan, etc.), but I think this defense as a whole can and will get beat all season on the ground. Tampa Bay will still be a little vanilla with the play-calling with Jameis Winston so I expect the Muscle Hamster to shoulder the load -- 125-150 total yards, a few receptions and a touchdown or two is not out of the question here.

Brendan Donahue - Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles ($6,900)

This is maybe the only time you will be able to take advantage of Sam Bradford at this price this season. I'm not saying that just because I think he will excel in Chip Kelly's offense as he showed us a glimpse with his 10-for-10, 3-TD performance against the Packers, but also because with his injury history, you may literally not be able to put him in your lineups again this season. That being said, he has a great matchup against the Falcons, who gave up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing QBs last year and did little to improve that in the offseason.

Ryan Watterson - Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($4,500)

Many of the top RBs this week have a tough matchup or some level of uncertainty associated with them. Martin has a clear-cut lead-back role and a fantastic matchup against a Titans defense that ranked in the bottom five against the run in almost any method of measurement. As opposed to previous years when Martin had a lead role and disappointed, he has looked very good by all accounts and it showed in the preseason. With a rookie QB, the Bucs will lean on their run game and Martin should exploit the Titans awful run D. At a mere $4,500, Martin could produce strong numbers and enable you to spend elsewhere.

Kevin Hanson - Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals ($7,100)

Given the values to be had elsewhere this week, it's easy to afford higher-priced backs like Hill, although he is still a value in relative terms. With the ninth-highest salary among running backs, Hill is my second-ranked running back for the week. From Week 9 on, Hill led the NFL in rushing yards (929, 5.40 YPC) with five 100-yard games over that nine-game span. No team allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs last season and the Bengals had the fifth-highest run-play percentage (47.59 percent) in 2014. With a high floor and ceiling alike, I can see Hill get 20-plus carries, 100-plus yards (DK scoring gives three bonus points for a 100-yard rushing game) and a touchdown (or two) with a few receptions.

Dan Yanotchko - Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($4,500)

I love Doug Martin of the Buccanuthis week, as I feel he's a great value play at $4,500. The Muscle Hamster has looked great in the preseason, showing off that great quickness that made him a star in 2012. I love his matchup against the Titans, who were second worse in the league in giving up 2,195 yards and 4.3 yards per carry last year. The Titans also surrendered 17 touchdowns on the ground as well, giving Martin the potential for great numbers at his price.

Week 1 DFS cheat sheets:

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 1 (Hanson)

We are now less than 48 hours away from the start of the 2015 NFL season. It's less common to have strongly-formed opinions about games in the first week of a new season, but I feel fairly confident about my picks for this week.

With that said, here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season:

Arizona Cardinals -3 over New Orleans Saints (5 units)

Has there been a better head coach than Bruce Arians over the past three years? While it took longer than it should have for him to get his opportunity, Arians has won the AP NFL Coach of the Year Award in two of the past three seasons.

The Cardinals struggled with durability at quarterback with both starter Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton missing games last season. With Palmer healthy, however, the Cardinals should be able to move the ball at will against the Saints, who will be without their top cornerback for this game. Last year, New Orleans ranked 25th in the NFL in passing defense.

While the Saints offense is still led by Drew Brees, the team traded away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills in the offseason and C.J. Spiller will miss Week 1, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Plus, Brees and the Saints have historically had much more success at home than on the road. In fact, the Saints have their worst cover rate in the NFL on the road over the past five seasons (18-26, 40.9 percent).

On the other hand, Arians has won 13 of 16 home games in his two seasons with the Cardinals and the team has been nearly as good against the spread (11-5 ATS at home, 68.8 percent). If you've followed our picks last season, you know that I tend to be conservative with my recommended units. So, a five (the max on our scale) from me is a bet-the-house type play in my view.

New England Patriots -7 over Pittsburgh Steelers (4 units)

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been nearly unbeatable at home and I certainly think if the Pats have a chance, they will (try to) run up the score. It's been a long offseason for the Patriots as we've only known for a week that Brady will be able to play on Thursday night.

Since Brady took over as quarterback in 2001, no team has won more games by double digits than the Patriots (102). Coincidentally, the Steelers are tied for second at 82.

No longer possessing an elite, or even a good, defense, the Steelers will need to score points in bunches to keep up with the Patriots. While the duo of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown should find success, the losses of Le'Veon Bell (suspension), Martavis Bryant (suspension) and Maurkice Pouncey (injury) hurts the Steelers offense and will make it difficult for them to match score for score.

Given the losses of key players for Thursday, the Steelers could easily give the Patriots their 103rd win by double digits since 2001.

New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns -- Under 39.5 (2 units)

No game on the Week 1 slate has a lower over/under than this one, yet it's more than possible that the two sides fail to combine to reach even that modest total. With Josh Gordon suspended for the 2015 season, the Browns lack offensive weapons and Josh McCown is coming off a disappointing season that led to his release by the Bucs.

Meanwhile, the Jets offense should be better (than last year and than that of the Browns), but Ryan Fitzgerald gets the start at quarterback as Geno Smith had his jaw broken by a (now former) teammate. I can see this game turning out to be a 13-10, 17-13 type of game.

And recent trends support this pick as the under has covered in 11 of the past 12 games for the Browns and six of the last eight games for the Jets.

- Note: We will track all of our 2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread here.

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September 08, 2015

DraftKings GPP Lineup Construction for NFL Week 1

If you have watched television or listened to the radio recently, you have seen a commercial -- or a 1,000 of them -- for DraftKings or FanDuel this year. This is going to be the biggest year of daily fantasy sports ever.

DraftKings has an amazing $10 million guaranteed tournament for Week 1 alone, which is the richest prize pool ever. This is going to attract a lot of new players, which is great for people that have been playing for a few years.

If you are one of these new players, the key is research, research, and then more research. Read articles on game theory and recommended plays and they will help you in the long run. Join cheap H2H contests against some of the top players in the industry to see what type of lineups they are playing. Deconstructing lineups is probably the best tool most people overlook. Subscribe and listen to podcasts. There are about a dozen podcasts I listen to during football season. These will give you some great insight on which players to pick on Sunday.

My general strategy in large tournaments -- called Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPPs) -- is to pick a core group of players I really like and then to build teams around them.

Use Vegas as a guide. The higher the over/under, the more points you can expect to see. It's a fairly simple concept, but it's often overlooked by new players. (Note: We track weekly Vegas odds here.)

Excluding the Thursday Night Football matchup, we have three games this weekend that are projected above 50: Green Bay at Chicago, NY Giants at Dallas and Philly at Atlanta. I'd be willing to bet that the majority of GPP winners will have at least 1-2 players from these games. Games like Cleveland at NY Jets or Carolina at Jacksonville can be safely ignored this week for position players unless you are rolling out 20+ GPP lineups.

Here is my core group I like for Week 1.

WR - Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers, $4,400: Adams is the chalkiest play on the board for Week 1, but I'm not going to be contrarian just to be contrarian. There is a lot of value to fading Adams, because if he gets hurt or if Aaron Rodgers targets Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis or any of the TEs (more than Adams), then all of the non-Adams players have a leg up on the rest of the field. I just don't see that happening against the Bears defense. If I'm entering 20+ contests, I'd definitely throw some non-Adams lineups out there, but for newer players or people playing a small number of lineups, going 100 percent Adams is a great move.

WR - Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, $9,300: At the $9300 price tag, Jones is the most expensive player on DK Week 1. I'm not sure exactly what his ownership level will be, but I think it could be very high with all the savings you can find elsewhere. Jones gets to match up vs. the Eagles defense that was awful against the pass last year. Paying up $9,300, you need to get around 30+ points from him to get value in a tournament and I think he is as safe of a bet as there is, barring injury.

RB - Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $4,500: I wrote Doug Martin up on our DFS Roundtable this week. Martin has a very juicy matchup vs the Titans week 1. He has looked explosive this pre-season and should be the primary back this season for the Bucs.

[Note: Our DFS Roundtable post will be up Wednesday night.]

TE - Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears, $4300: With Gronk playing Thursday night, that leaves the TE position with only a few solid choices. My usual strategy is to pay up for an elite player like Gronk or punt the position. I think this week I'm paying up for the fifth-most expensive TE. As I mentioned above, targeting players from the highest O/U games is something you should do. Bennett is a good red-zone target, and could get some extra targets with Alshon Jeffrey banged up, and Brandon Marshall in NY.

QB - I usually will never have a core QB in my lineups. I like to pair different QBs with WRs in each of my GPP lineups. There are many times where an outside-the-box combo like Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeAndre Hopkins (last year) could win you a tournament.

With those four core players, that's a salary of $22,500, which leaves us a nice $27,500 to play with five positions left.

Here is a look at how I will spend from this point. I'm targeting a defense next. My general rule of thumb is picking a defense at home vs. a sh%#{y offense. The one that stands out this week is the NY Jets at $2,900. There are some other defenses I like that I will sprinkle in on some of my lineups like Miami and Tampa Bay, but the Jets will probably be used in 50% of my GPP lineups. This leaves me with $24,600 for four players (or $6150 per player).

I can go a number of different routes at this point. I can pair my WRs (above) with their starting QBs --Rodgers at $8,600 or Matt Ryan $7,500 -- or I can try to find another QB/WR combo. For this example, I'm going to draft Matt Ryan at $7,500, leaving me with an average of $5,700 each for a RB/WR/Flex. Ryan should have a monster game vs the Eagles defense.

I want to get a piece of the NY Giants/Dallas game. I am going to take Dallas RB Joseph Randle at $5,900. The Cowboys have the best offensive line in football, and I expect a lot of people to be off Randle after the success that Darren McFadden had this preseason. Randle could be a very low-owned steal with an incredibly high ceiling. I'm left with $5,600 per player at this point.

I could go the even route and find two players near the same salary or try and go big with a sleeper and a more consistent player, who should have a higher floor. I'm all for winning GPPs or placing as high as possible so I'm going boom or bust.

WR - Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears, $3,900: The Bears should be down and Royal should have a fair number of targets vs. the Packers.

RB - Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals, $7,100: The Raiders run defense is pretty bad, and I think a lot of people will shy away from Hill Week 1. Hill has an incredible ceiling Week 1.

In this lineup, six out of eight players come from highest total games.

Here is another sample lineup without QB/WR combo.

QB - Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills, $5,000: Taylor is at the site minimum and makes for a very sneaky GPP play. The Bills defense has improved this offseason, but they face arguably the best offense in the NFL this week. The Bills could be playing from behind in 3+ WR sets which would force Indy to play a lot of 5-6 DB sets. This would give Taylor a lot of space to run the ball. A modest game of 200 passing yards, 50 rush yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs gives Taylor plenty of value to pay off his price tag. This leaves me with $6533 left per player.

WR - Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, $8,700: I get another elite WR who has 30+ scoring potential.

WR - Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles, $7,200: The Eagles #1 WR should have a field day vs the leagues worst passing defense last year.

RB - Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles, $3,600 Punt play and high upside. I'm projecting the Eagles to score 40+ points on Monday night.

6 out of 8 players come from highest total games.

A more contrarian lineup with my core group

QB - Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts, $8,300: Luck has a very tough matchup vs Buffalo on the road, and I think he will get overlooked and be very low owned week 1. Sometimes you just play elite players regardless of matchup.

RB - Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals, $6,400: Ellington has a very soft matchup at home vs. the Saints. For only $300 more, you can snag DeMarco Murray in a game where I project their to be 60+ points. Ellington makes a pretty solid pivot to Murray.

WR - Stevie Johnson, San Diego Chargers, $3,700: It wouldn't shock me to see Johnson return to fantasy fame this year. He has a pretty good matchup vs. Detroit and the price is right.

Flex - Andre Johnson, Indianapolis Colts, $6,100 Luck/Johnson combo could reward you big time if Buffalo finds a way in slowing down T.Y. Hilton.

With this lineup i only have 3 of 8 players coming from the highest total games.

Typically the contrarian lineup will net you a bigger win than a chalkier lineup like 1 and 2, but you need to be prepared to lose the majority of the time with these lineups.

There is no right or wrong way in constructing a roster. You need to always tweak your strategy to stay ahead of the rest of the pack.

Best of luck to everyone this season.

Find me on Twitter at @Xtremedynasty.

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Preseason Rankings: Quarterbacks

It was the first time it happened (or should I say didn't happen?) in a decade.

Three of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation -- Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees -- all finished outside the top-three fantasy quarterbacks in 2014. From 2005 to 2013, at least one of those three quarterbacks had finished as a top-three fantasy quarterback every season.

Could that happen for a second year in a row? Based on my rankings, my answer is yes.

With that said, here are my fantasy football quarterback rankings for 2015:


1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Throwing for 4,761 yards and a league-leading 40 touchdowns, both of which were career highs, Luck's 40 TDs last season nearly equalled his total from his first two seasons combined (46 TDs). During the season, Luck had the second-longest streak of 300-yard games (eight) in NFL history. Not only does Luck lead one of the league's most prolific passing offenses, but he gets a boost from his mobility with at least 255 rushing yards each year and a total of 12 rushing scores.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

The reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, Rodgers was also the top-scoring fantasy quarterback as well. Since becoming Green Bay's starting quarterback seven years ago, Rodgers has finished as a top-two fantasy quarterback in six of seven seasons with the lone exception due to injury (broken clavicle, 2013). Over the past four seasons, Rodgers has compiled a 139:25 TD-to-INT ratio with an average of 8.5 yards per attempt, 112.6 passer rating and 67.0 completion percentage.

3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

A top-three fantasy quarterback in 2014, Wilson rushed for 849 yards and six touchdowns, both of which were career highs, and netted fantasy owners an average of 7.56 fantasy points per game from rushing stats alone. While he won't post gaudy passing statistics in Seattle's run-dominant offense, Wilson is the first quarterback in league history to throw 20-plus touchdowns with 10 or fewer interceptions in each of his first three NFL seasons, per Pro Football Reference. Wilson's volume of pass attempts may not spike in 2015, but the Seahawks pulled off a blockbuster trade for tight end Jimmy Graham, which significantly upgrades the team's weapons in the red zone.

4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

After three consecutive 5,000-yard seasons, Brees fell just shy of that mark in 2014 but still tied for the league lead with 4,952 passing yards and threw 33 touchdowns. For the first time since signing with the Saints in 2006, Brees finished outside the top-five fantasy quarterbacks (sixth) in 2014. And while he has thrown at least 650 pass attempts in five consecutive seasons and he led the league in pass attempts per game (41.2) last season, a transition to a more run-based offense could begin given their offseason moves.

5. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

With Judge Berman nullifying the four-game suspension for Brady, it's great to have a resolution (sort of, sans the NFL's appeal) to the Deflategate drama. After a slow start last season as Rob Gronkowski worked his way back from a torn ACL, only Peyton Manning (31) threw more touchdowns than Brady (29) from Weeks 5 to 17. During that span, Brady scored the fifth-most fantasy points among QBs on a per-game basis. Assuming continued good health for Gronk, Brady could finish as a top-five fantasy QB in 2015.

6. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Based on his 2014 average draft position (ADP), Roethlisberger was one of the biggest draft values last season. Only four quarterbacks scored more fantasy points and he threw for a career-high 4,952 yards, which tied Drew Brees last season for the league lead, and 32 touchdowns, which tied a previous career high. With continuity on the offensive line and one of the league's best group of pass catchers, it wouldn't surprise me if Big Ben posted another top-five finish in 2015.

7. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

Manning finished the year as the QB4 (312.68 fantasy points) behind Rodgers (354.14), Luck (350.74) and Wilson (327.6). In the first 11 games of the season, Manning averaged 23.96 fantasy points per game (323.45 YPG, 34 TDs and nine INTs). In the final five games of the season, however, he averaged just 9.83 FPPG (233.8 YPG, five TDs and six INTs) and never scored more than 13.02 fantasy points in any of those games. Much of the decline can be attributed to last year's thigh injury, but Manning's passing production also tends to slow as the weather turns colder. In a more balanced offense with some issues on the offensive line, it's possible that Manning fails to produce a top-five fantasy season.

8. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill posted career highs in passing yards (4,045), passing touchdowns (27) and completion percentage (66.4) with a career low in interceptions (12) in his first year playing for new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. In addition, he rushed for a career-high 311 yards, which ranked fifth among all quarterbacks last season. Starting in Week 6, Tannehill finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in six of 11 weeks, but he finished with the eighth-most fantasy points over the full season. The team's group of top pass-catchers was entirely turned over except for Jarvis Landry, but Tannehill has some upside for those that wait on quarterback in 2015.

9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan has more than 4,500 passing yards in three consecutive seasons with the third-most (13,928) over that span. In addition, he has 26-plus touchdowns in five consecutive seasons and the sixth-most (143) during that span. The good news is that Ryan has finished as a top-eight fantasy quarterback in four of the past five years, which makes him a solid mid-QB1 option to target. That said, he has yet to finish as a top-six fantasy quarterback in his career.

10. Eli Manning, New York Giants

In the first six games of the season, Eli finished outside the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks in all but one game. Over the final 10 games of the season, however, Manning posted five weekly top-five performances. With better health from his wide receivers and the free-agent addition of Shane Vereen, a talented receiver out of the backfield, plus more comfort and familiarity with Ben McAdoo's offense, Eli has the potential to post career numbers in 2015. In addition, only Tampa and Washington have a more favorable fantasy strength of schedule than Eli does.

- My full 2015 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Preseason Rankings: Running Backs

Among fantasy football's major positions, running back is arguably the most difficult to predict.

While I generally prefer to draft at least two running backs within my first three picks, plenty of late(r)-round selections will pay huge dividends for fantasy owners. Of course, identifying them is a little more difficult.

That said, four of the top-12 fantasy running backs last season were drafted, on average, outside the top-30 fantasy running backs last year — Lamar Miller (No. 9, ADP: RB31), Jeremy Hill (No. 10, ADP: RB42), C.J. Anderson (No. 11, ADP: RB65) and Justin Forsett (No. 8, ADP: Undrafted).

With that said, here are my fantasy football running back rankings for 2015:

1. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

Unfortunately for Bell (and his fantasy owners), he's suspended for the first two games of the season (although that was cut from his initial three-game ban). Once he returns, however, Bell's versatility makes him a true three-down back and his production won't vary much based on game flow. Named 2014 AP First-Team All-Pro Team, Bell racked up 1,361 rushing yards, 83 receptions for 854 yards and 11 total touchdowns in his second season. Bell broke single-season franchise records for yards from scrimmage and receptions by a running back. Over the course of last year, he averaged 17.97 fantasy points per game although his production spiked to 24.7/G with LeGarrette Blount out of the picture down the stretch.

2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

One of the league's all-time best running backs, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards back just a couple of seasons ago coming of a torn ACL. Assuming that he plays all 16 games (or close to it), the 30-year-old Peterson should finish as a top-three (or better) fantasy back in 2015.

3. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

Starting slowly while facing three elite rush defenses to start the season, only DeMarco Murray and Le'Veon Bell scored more fantasy points than Lacy did from Weeks 4 to 17. Over those final 13 games of the season, he averaged 18.92 touches for 108.85 YFS per game and scored a total of 13 touchdowns. The benefit of playing with Aaron Rodgers means that opposing defenses are less likely to stack the box to (try to) slow down Lacy. After averaging a relatively modest 4.15 yards per carry as a rookie, Lacy averaged 4.63 YPC last season (and 4.89 YPC over final 13 games).

4. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

Despite a somewhat disappointing season, Charles finished with the seventh-most fantasy points among running backs in 2014. The 28-year-old back rushed for 1,033 yards, his fifth 1,000-yard season, and added 40 catches for 291 yards while scoring a total of 14 touchdowns. Despite a year-over-year decline in all of those numbers, the biggest concern was his reduction in workload. After 320-plus touches in back-to-back seasons, Charles had just 246 touches -- 15 running backs had more -- in 2014. Perhaps we won't see Charles get in the 320-range ever again, but it would be a surprise to see him as low as 246 again this season.

5. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

In his four full seasons in Seattle, Lynch has rushed for 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns in those seasons. During that four-year span, no player has more rushing yards (5,357), rushing touchdowns (48) and or total touchdowns (56). Beast Mode's production hasn't slowed at all, but his physical running style (granted, he seems to dish out more punishment than he receives), heavy workload (league-high 1,479 regular-season and playoff touches over that four-year span) and age (turned 29 in April) is at least somewhat concerning. That said, Lynch seems to be a lock for another 1,200 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns in one of the league's most run-dominant offenses.

6. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos

From Week 10 to 17 last year, Anderson finished as a top-five fantasy running back in six of eight games. In the other two games, he was still very productive as the RB10 and RB16 for those given weeks. With a new coaching staff entering 2015, CJA is set to begin the season in a featured-back role. In his mailbag column, Troy Renck of the Denver Post projects Anderson to average 18 carries per game as the team's "bellcow" and to "roll for 1,400 yards."

7. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals

Over the final nine games of the season, Hill had 22-plus carries and 100-plus rushing yards five times including the final three games of the regular season. During that nine-game span, Hill had 172 carries for 929 yards and six touchdowns and no running back had more rushing yards than Hill during that stretch. (Lynch was second with 824 yards.) Going into the 2015 season, Hill is clearly the team's lead back with Giovani Bernard back as the change-of-pace option.

8. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

Not only did Forte lead all running backs in receptions (102) last year, but only three players had more -- Antonio Brown (129), Demaryius Thomas (111) and Julio Jones (104) -- as he broke the single-season record for receptions by a running back. With the coaching change, Forte isn't likely to see anywhere close to triple-digit receptions again, but he could certainly finish in the neighborhood of 60-70 catches. And although Forte averaged less than four yards per carry for the first time since 2009, he has rushed for 1,000-plus yards in three consecutive seasons and has exceeded 1,400 yards from scrimmage in all seven of his NFL seasons. Only the Raiders (337) and Bucs (353) ran the ball less than the Bears (355) last season and I'd expect the Bears to be more committed to the run in 2015 to limit Jay Cutler's turnovers.

9. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles

Murray has always been productive on a per-game, per-touch basis. Before last season's career year, Murray averaged 4.95 yards per carry in his first three seasons combined. The issue with Murray (before 2014) was durability as he missed multiple games in each of those three seasons. With a total of 497 touches including the playoffs last year, durability remains Murray's biggest concern in 2015 as well. Even though the team added another talented (and injury-prone) running back (Ryan Mathews) in free agency, I'd expect Murray to still get close to 20 touches per game, when healthy. But will he hold up for another full season?

10. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

Barely finishing as a top-12 fantasy running back last season, McCoy finished third in the league in rushing (1,319 yards) and was one of only two 300-carry backs. Not only did he average nearly a yard per carry less in 2014 than 2013, however, McCoy also saw his receptions (52 in 2013) and touchdowns (11 in 2013) drop roughly in half to 28 and five, respectively. Despite running behind an inferior offensive line (compared to Philadelphia's), McCoy should see a healthy volume of work within Buffalo's ground-and-pound offense, like last year, but will his per-touch effectiveness bounce back in a less-efficient offense? In addition, his Week 1 status isn't clear.

-> 2015 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Preseason Rankings: Wide Receivers

A wide receiver has scored 250-plus fantasy points 12 times in the history of the NFL.

Nearly half of those 250-point seasons belong to one player, Jerry Rice (five). Only four of them have occurred since the turn of the century — Randy Moss (2003 and 2007), Calvin Johnson (2011) and now Antonio Brown (2014).

Amazingly, Brown never finished as the highest-scoring fantasy wide receiver in any given week throughout the 2014 season. (In fact, that applies to both standard- and PPR-scoring formats.) Yet no wide receiver had more fantasy points over the course of the season -- in either format -- than Brown.

Over the past two seasons, Brown has a combined 239 receptions for 3,197 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also has 17 rushing yards and two return touchdowns. More impressive than his overall level of production, however, has been his consistency.

Brown had at least five receptions and 70 yards in all 17 games (counting their playoff loss) last season. Going back to the start of 2013, Brown has at least five catches and 50 yards in 33 consecutive games.

One of the things that you'll often hear in fantasy football is that you can't win your league in the first round, but you can lose it. With Brown's production and consistency, there isn't a safer first-round pick.

Here are my fantasy football wide receiver rankings for 2015:

1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

See above.

2. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

Targeted only 136 times, a three-year low, Bryant finished with 88 receptions for 1,320 yards and a career-high and league-leading 16 touchdowns. Dez now has at least 88 catches, 1,233 yards and 12 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons. And aside from Marshawn Lynch, Bryant is the only other player with at least 50 total touchdowns over the past four seasons.

3. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

Jones finished with 104 catches for 1,593 yards, both of which shattered his previous career highs, and six touchdowns in 2014. After scoring 0.62 TD/G on 74.4 YPG in his first two seasons, Jones has averaged just 0.40 TD/G despite a jump to 1087.7 YPG over the past two seasons. With plus size and speed, Jones should bounce back in terms of red-zone production and could put together a 100/1,500/10 season in 2015 with good health.

4. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

Despite his slow start, Thomas reached the 100-yard mark in 10 of his final 13 games and finished with a full-season stat line of 111 catches and 1,619 yards, both of which were career highs, and 11 touchdowns. A fourth consecutive year of 90-plus receptions, 1,400-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns seems like a strong possibility with Peyton Manning back for (at least) one more year.

5. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

Including playoff appearances, Megatron has more 200-yard games (six) than any other receiver in league history. And while he still has as much potential as any receiver to take over a given game, he has missed a total of five games in 2013 and 2014. Johnson also appeared in a few games as a decoy, which can be even worse for fantasy owners than missed games. With five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, however, Megatron has averaged a stat line of 90/1,467/11 during that span.

6. Odell Beckham, New York Giants

Closing the season with nine consecutive games of 90-plus yards, Beckham racked up a massive stat line of 81/1,199/9 on 115 targets during that stretch. In fact, only 11 other receivers had more yards in all of 2014 than OBJ had in his final nine games. And as impressive as that sounds, he was even more dominant over his final four games -- 43/606/7 on 63 targets. While ODB is far from being the biggest receiver, his combination of hands, route-running ability, speed and elusiveness makes him nearly impossible to cover especially in today's age of offense-friendly rules.

7. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

Injuries kept Green from building upon his 2013 numbers (98/1,426/11), but he extended his streak of 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career to four. Only Megatron (6,214), Brown (5,092) and Demaryius (5,034) have more yards during that four-year span than Green (4,874). With good health, Green is a good bet for 1,300 yards and double-digit touchdowns in 2015.

8. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

Recently turning 25, Cobb re-signed with the Packers prior to the official start of NFL free agency. Of course, playing in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense helps to maximize his fantasy value this year and going forward. Cobb finished the season with 91 receptions for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns, all of which set career highs, but I would be surprised if he scored 12 touchdowns again in 2015. That said, the season-ending ACL injury to Jordy Nelson means that Cobb should finish as a top-eight fantasy receiver in 2015.

9. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

With the Bears trading Brandon Marshall to the Jets and using a top-seven pick on West Virginia's Kevin White, Jeffery now takes over as the team's clear No. 1 wide receiver. Despite year-over-year dips in both receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,133), Jeffery posted a career high in touchdowns (10) and finished with the 11th-most fantasy points among wide receivers last season. Jeffery has been sidelined with a calf injury for the past several weeks, but it appears that he'll be ready for the start of the season.

10. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Not only was he one of three rookie receivers to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, but Evans was one of just five receivers to score at least 12 touchdowns last year. From Weeks 9 to 11, he gave us a glimpse of what we can expect when things really click as he posted a massive 21/458/5 line over that three-game stretch. Evans, who turned 22 in August, should take a step forward in 2015 although there may be some early-season inconsistency playing with a rookie quarterback.

-> 2015 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Preseason Rankings: Tight Ends

While most fantasy football drafts are in the books, a few still have some drafts to go and therefore I've made a final update to my preseason fantasy football rankings.

Here are my fantasy football tight end rankings (standard scoring):

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

When it comes to fantasy tight ends, he's in a tier all by himself. Named the 2014 AP Comeback Player of the Year after two injury-plagued seasons, Gronkowski posted an 82/1,124/12 stat line over 15 games. Scoring 184.4 fantasy points, Gronk had 30.3 points (or 19.66 percent) more than Antonio Gates, who had the second-most among tight ends. Not only dominant over a full season, but Gronk was consistent as well finishing as a top-five weekly scorer at the position in eight of 15 games and a top-11 scorer in all but two games.

2. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

Slowed by a shoulder injury, Graham had 54 yards or less in six of his final seven games last season and finished with only 889 yards, a four-year low. Over his past four seasons, however, Graham has averaged 89 catches, 1,099 yards and 12 touchdowns per year. With his trade to the Seahawks, Graham goes from an offense that averaged 41.2 pass attempts per game, second-most in the NFL last year, to one that averages the fewest (28.4/G).

3. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Kelce played only 52.3 percent of the team's offensive snaps from Weeks 1 to 10, but that percentage jumped to 86.7 percent from Weeks 11 to 17. Despite his snap-count limits during the first half of the season, Kelce still finished with 67 receptions, 862 yards and five touchdowns and the ninth-most fantasy points (sixth-most in PPR formats) among tight ends last season. With good health, the sky is the limit for Kelce in 2015.

4. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

Posting career highs of 84 catches for 1,008 yards last season, Olsen now has at least 69 receptions and 816 yards while finishing as a top-seven fantasy tight end in each of the past three seasons. Over that three-year span, Jimmy Graham (3,086) is the only tight end with more yards than Olsen (2,667) and only Graham (256) and Jason Witten (247) have more receptions than Olsen (226). He's never scored more than eight touchdowns in a season, but he has at least five scores for seven consecutive seasons. In addition, Olsen is extremely durable having played all 16 games in seven consecutive seasons.

5. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears

Setting career highs across the board in 2014 with 90 receptions, 916 yards and six touchdowns, Bennett finished as a top-five scorer among tight ends and led the position in receptions. With the Bears trading Brandaon Marshall to the Jets and the injury to top pick Kevin White, Bennett has the potential to come close to those numbers this season.

6. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

Other than his rookie season, Witten's 64 receptions and 703 yards last year set or tied career lows. Witten lacks upside at this point in his career, but he's a solid option that should come close to last year's top-10 performance once again.

7. Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins

In 2013, Cameron had a breakout season with 80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. When healthy, he is clearly a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Unfortunately, Cameron missed six games last season and has a history of concussions. Perhaps no injury is more worrisome from a fantasy outlook given the greater susceptibility and unpredictability of a recurrence. If Cameron plays 16 games in 2015, however, he has top-five upside.

8. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

Eifert's 2014 season ended almost as soon as it began with a dislocated elbow injury in Week 1. As a rookie and part of a timeshare with Jermaine Gresham, Eifert posted a solid 39/445/2 line in 2013. With Gresham now gone and Eifert healthy, Eifert will be counted on to be a significant part of their passing attack. Provided he stays healthy, it wouldn't surprise me if the former first-round pick finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end in 2015.

9. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

Walker set career highs in both receptions (63) and yards (890) and led the team in both categories last season. It may be difficult for Walker to repeat that production with a rookie quarterback, but he could once again finish as a top-10 fantasy tight end.

10. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

Ertz saw a year-over-year jump from 36 catches and 469 yards as a rookie to 58 catches for 702 yards, 11th-most among tight ends last season. With Jeremy Maclin leaving Philadelphia for Kansas City, however, Ertz should become even more involved in the passing game. That said, he was still working with the second-team offense before undergoing a surgery to repair a groin tear and it's unclear if he'll be ready to go Week 1 against the Falcons.

- My full 2015 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

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September 07, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft: Round 7

Here are Round 7 results of our 2015 Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft:

7.01 - Sean Beazley (Team I): LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots

As we've seen from Blount in the postseason, he can go from one yard on three carries (vs. BAL) one week to 30 carries for 148 yards and three touchdowns (vs. IND) the next week. Blount's carries in his final six games through the Super Bowl were as follows: 20, eight, 10, three, 30 and 14. While we can't always count on consistent running back workloads from Belichick, Blount figures to be the "guy" in the Patriots' backfield. And Blount has been dominant at the goal line for the Patriots with 15 rushing scores in his past 15 games (including playoffs) with the Pats.

7.02 - Brendan Donahue (Team I): Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers

Woodhead missed all but three games last season, but prior to the 2014 season, he had finished as a top-30 fantasy running back in three of his previous four seasons. In his first full season with the Chargers (2013) which also coincided with the only full season for Ryan Mathews, Woodhead had 1,034 yards from scrimmage, 76 receptions and eight total touchdowns. Even though Melvin Gordon will get the largest share of the early-down work, Woodhead should get the majority of third-down snaps.

7.03 - Kevin Hanson (Team I): DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins

Despite the revolving door at quarterback, Jackson was one of the few bright spots for Washington's offense in 2014. D-Jax finished with 56 catches for 1,169 yards and six touchdowns and he led the NFL in yards per reception (20.9). Even though he finished as the 23rd-highest scoring fantasy wide receiver, the big drawback of owning Jackson is his boom-or-bust nature. Jackson finished as a top-20 fantasy wide receiver in eight of 15 games last year; in six of the other seven games, he finished as the WR50 or worse.

7.04 - Kevin Hanson (Team II): Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions

Scoring the 13th-most fantasy points among running backs (PPR) in 2014, Bell finished with 223 carries for 860 yards, both of which were career highs, as well as 34 receptions for 322 yards and eight total touchdowns. That said, it was the second consecutive season that Bell has averaged under 4.0 YPC.

While I expect Bell to lead the team's backfield in touches in 2015, second-round rookie Ameer Abdullah weakens Bell's grip on the featured-back role and it wouldn't surprise me if Abdullah emerged as the lead back at some point during the season, but I like his value as the RB32.

7.05 - Dan Yanotchko (Team I): Steve Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Smith's first season as a Raven went better than expectations as he posted a 79/1,065/6 full-season stat line. With all four of his 100-yard games occurring in the first six games of the season, Smith was much less effective over the final 10 games. That said, he did have at least five catches in each of the final four games for a total of 25 catches during the final month of the season. Now 36 years old, it's unlikely that Smith posts another 1,000-yard season in what will be his final NFL season, but he has made a career out of disproving his doubters.

7.06 - Dan Yanotchko (Team II): Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Over his past three seasons, Romo's pass attempts have dropped from 648 (2012) to 535 (2013) to 435 (2014). Despite the drop in volume, Romo threw 34 touchdowns, the most for him since 2007, with only nine interceptions, a four-year low. In addition, Romo led the league in Y/A (8.5), completion percentage (69.9), touchdown percentage (7.8) and passer rating (113.2) last year.

Assuming the team stays committed to the run game without DeMarco Murray, who signed a free-agent deal with the Eagles, Romo's upside could be somewhat limited with a relatively modest uptick in pass attempts. Even with his career year in efficiency, Romo still finished just outside the top-10 fantasy quarterbacks last season.

7.07 - Sean Beazley (Team II): Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Mathews has struggled with durability as he has played a full 16-game season only once in his five-year career. That said, he has been productive when on the field with a pair of 1,000-yard seasons under his belt and a career 4.40 YPC average. While he enters 2015 second on the depth chart behind last year's rushing champion, Murray has his own durability concerns as he is coming off a massive 497-touch season counting the playoffs.

7.08 - Sean Beazley (Team III): Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Since entering the league as a top-four pick, McFadden has largely disappointed fantasy owners due to durability issues or lack of production. Back in 2010 and 2011, he gave owners a glimpse of what could be with an average of 121.6 YFS per game and 5.27 YPC over 20 games played. For the first six seasons of his career, however, he missed at least three games every season and averaged only 11.17 games per year before finally playing a full 16-game season in 2014. In addition, McFadden has averaged just 3.34 YPC over the past three seasons combined. Having just turned 28, McFadden has some upside if he can stay healthy and get a significant share of the committee's workload. That said, the trade this weekend for Christine Michael lowers relatively modest optimism for McFadden.

7.09 - Brendan Donahue (Team II): Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan has more than 4,500 passing yards in three consecutive seasons with the third-most (13,928) over that span. In addition, he has 26-plus touchdowns in five consecutive seasons and the sixth-most (143) during that span. The good news is that Ryan has finished as a top-eight fantasy quarterback in four of the past five years, which makes him a solid mid-QB1 option to target. That said, he has yet to finish as a top-six fantasy quarterback in his career. He's the QB9 in this mock.

7.10 - Brendan Donahue (Team III): Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill posted career highs in passing yards (4,045), passing touchdowns (27) and completion percentage (66.4) with a career low in interceptions (12) in his first year playing for new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. In addition, he rushed for a career-high 311 yards, which ranked fifth among all quarterbacks last season. Starting in Week 6, Tannehill finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in six of 11 weeks, but he finished with the eighth-most fantasy points over the full season. The team's group of top pass-catchers was entirely turned over except for Jarvis Landry, but Tannehill has plenty of upside heading into 2015.

7.11 - Kevin Hanson (Team III): Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Fitzgerald had 63 receptions for 784 yards and a career-low two touchdowns last season and his 784 yards were only four more than the career low he had as a rookie. Given the injuries to Carson Palmer and then Drew Stanton, the decline certainly wasn't solely the fault of Fitzgerald, who also missed two games. In the 22 games that Carson Palmer and Fitzgerald have played together over the past two seasons, Fitzgerald has averaged 5.18 receptions, 65.32 yards and 0.55 touchdowns per game. That's a 16-game pace of 83/1,045/9.

7.12 - Dan Yanotchko (Team III): Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

Even though the 49ers have the second-fewest passing yards over the past two seasons, Boldin has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the Niners. In addition, both of his yardage totals (1,179 and 1,062, respectively) were higher than any of his previous six seasons. Boldin is unlikely to blow up for 150 yards and two touchdowns in any given week, but he provides owners with consistent production -- 50-plus receiving yards in 12 of 16 games last season.

> Continue to Round 8 of our PPR Fantasy Football Mock Draft
> Go back to Round 6 of our PPR Fantasy Football Mock Draft


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2015 Fantasy Football Average Draft Position (ADP) Weekly Movement: Sept. 7th Update

Every Monday this offseason, we posted an update in players that have had the biggest moves — both up and down — in fantasy football average draft position (ADP) from the previous week. (Given that the NFL season starts in three days, this will be the final weekly update.)

With this information, we can get a better sense of changes in the collective perceptions of fantasy football owners (mock drafters); in essence, it's a version of fantasy stock up/down for players. If a player is moving up the ADP chart, it may lead us to using a higher pick than his current ADP to make sure we secure a targeted player.

Of course, a player's ADP (and movement) is just one (small) piece in determining who to draft and our strategy used to assemble a fantasy roster.

For purposes of our weekly comparison(s), we use ADP data from 12-team mock drafts from Fantasy Football Calculator.

Biggest weekly gainers in ADP.

Quarterbacks:

  1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: -17.3 (81.7 on 9/1 to 64.4 on 9/7)
  2. Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles: -10.9 (91.8 to 80.9)
  3. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: -4.7 (154.1 to 149.4)

Running Backs:

  1. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: -11.3 (91.6 to 80.3)
  2. Matt Jones, Washington Redskins: -10.5 (143.2 to 132.7)
  3. Arian Foster, Houston Texans: -7.2 (46.2 to 39.0)

Wide Receivers:

  1. DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins: -10.7 (126.9 to 116.2)
  2. Eric Decker, New York Jets: -10.1 (113.6 to 103.5)
  3. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans: -9.5 (121.0 to 111.5)

Tight Ends:

  1. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: -13.0 (102.7 to 89.7)
  2. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals: -9.7 (107.9 to 98.2)
  3. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings: -8.3 (126.5 to 118.2)

Biggest weekly fallers in ADP.

Quarterbacks:

  1. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders: +8.7 (153.2 on 9/1 to 161.9 on 9/7)
  2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: +5.8 (55.9 to 61.7)
  3. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers: +5.3 (140.8 to 146.1)

Running Backs:

  1. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns: +10.8 (98.6 to 109.4)
  2. Andre Williams, New York Giants: +9.4 (138.3 to 147.7)
  3. Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans: +8.9 (89.7 to 98.6)

Wide Receivers:

  1. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: +11.5 (109.8 to 121.3)
  2. Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders: +11.2 (132.0 to 143.2)
  3. Jeff Janis, Green Bay Packers: +7.7 (152.0 to 159.7)

Tight Ends:

  1. Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars: +37.2 (87.8 to 125.0)
  2. Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: +5.5 (149.6 to 155.1)
  3. Owen Daniels, Denver Broncos: +4.8 (80.6 to 85.4)

[Note: Negative numbers mean the player's ADP is improving (i.e., being drafted earlier) and vice versa.]

- Fantasy Football ADP Risers/Fallers: See full grid of player changes in ADP over past week

Our 2015 fantasy football rankings:

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Week 1 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Beazley)

With the college football season under way, we are now just days away from the start of the NFL season and here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 1:

Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons -- Over 56.5 (5 units)

This game will be the highest scoring game of the week, and if you do not have a piece of this one in the DFS world, you will probably lose. Sam Bradford is my cash game QB this week and I expect him to have a monster game on Monday night. The Eagles offense has been clicking on all cylinders and I expect them to put up 40-plus points in this contest.

If you are paying up for one player this week, then pay up for Falcons WR Julio Jones. Jones is arguably the most talented WR in the NFL and he has a very juicy matchup vs. a pass defense that ranked 31st in the NFL last year. (The 32nd ranked team was Atlanta). While I hate to guarantee big games, Jones is pretty much a lock in my mind for 25-plus fantasy points Week 1.

The Eagles offensive players are a little harder to predict as a number of different options could go off, but I like Philly to win this one in a shootout, 45-27.

New York Jets -3 over Cleveland Browns (3 units)
Jets/Browns -- Under 39.5 (3 units)

I will be picking on the Cleveland Browns early and often this season. Josh McCown is going to struggle this season with his god-awful WR corps, and I could see a scenario on Sunday where he is pulled from the game. The Jets defense is my No. 1 DFS target this week. I think the Jets play smart ball-control offense feeding Chris Ivory all game. Their defense will capitalize on a few turnovers and they will win in a very ugly contest. The favorite is this matchup is 5-0 ATS, and the under is 4-1 ATS in their past five meetings. I like the trend to continue on Sunday: Jets 19, Browns 9.

Miami Dolphins -4.5 over Washington Redskins (2 units)

I usually don't like taking small road favorites but I think Miami is the clear exception Week 1. The Dolphins defense is very underrated and the addition of Ndamukong Suh should give the Redskins mediocre offensive line some real trouble.

Kirk Cousins gets the nod for the 'Skins Week 1 and he's a turnover machine, which should give Miami some short field situations to with which to work. I'm not a huge Ryan Tannehill fan, but I believe he has some very good weapons — Jarvis Landry is a PPR monster and I expect him to have a big game on Sunday. Dolphins win, 24-14.

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2015 Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft: Round 6

Continuing the 2015 PPR Mock Draft that we began last week, another round is in the books.

Here are Round 6 results of our 2015 Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft:

6.01 - Dan Yanotchko (Team III): Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

After three consecutive 5,000-yard seasons, Brees fell just shy of that mark in 2014 but still tied (with Ben Roethlisberger) for the league lead with 4,952 passing yards and threw 33 touchdowns. For the first time since signing with the Saints in 2006, however, Brees finished outside the top-five fantasy quarterbacks (sixth) in 2014. And while he has thrown at least 650 pass attempts in five consecutive seasons and he led the league in pass attempts per game (41.2) last season, a transition to a more run-based offense could begin given their offseason moves.

6.02 - Kevin Hanson (Team III): Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

With Judge Berman nullifying the four-game suspension for Brady, it's great to have a resolution (sort of, sans the NFL's appeal) to the Deflategate drama. After a slow start last season as Rob Gronkowski worked his way back from a torn ACL, only Peyton Manning (31) threw more touchdowns than Brady (29) from Weeks 5 to 17. During that span, Brady scored the fifth-most fantasy points among QBs on a per-game basis. Assuming continued good health for Gronk, Brady could finish as a top-five fantasy QB in 2015.

6.03 - Brendan Donahue (Team III): Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers

Posting career highs of 84 catches for 1,008 yards last season, Olsen now has at least 69 receptions and 816 yards while finishing as a top-seven fantasy tight end in each of the past three seasons. Over that three-year span, Jimmy Graham (3,086) is the only tight end with more yards than Olsen (2,667) and only Graham (256) and Jason Witten (247) have more receptions than Olsen (226). He's never scored more than eight touchdowns in a season, but he has at least five scores for seven consecutive seasons. In addition, Olsen is extremely durable having played all 16 games in seven consecutive seasons.

6.04 - Brendan Donahue (Team II): Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears

Setting career highs across the board in 2014 with 90 receptions, 916 yards and six touchdowns, Bennett finished as a top-five scorer among tight ends and led the position in receptions. With the Bears trading Brandaon Marshall to the Jets and the injury to top pick Kevin White, Bennett has the potential to come close to those numbers this season.

6.05 - Sean Beazley (Team III): Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Inactive for the first six games, Bryant went on a scoring spree in his first four NFL games with a total of six touchdowns during that span. After that point, however, Bryant had just 12 catches for 239 yards and two touchdowns in the final six games of the season. Not only does he currently project as the team's No. 3 receiver, Bryant will miss the first four games of the season due to league suspension. It's a bit of a surprise that Sean took Bryant this early given his suspension, but he took receivers with his first two picks -- Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green -- as his starters and Bryant certainly has upside once he returns from suspension.

6.06 - Sean Beazley (Team II): Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Just a couple of seasons ago, Martin racked up 1,926 yards from scrimmage, 49 receptions and 12 touchdowns in 16 games as a rookie when he finished the year as fantasy's RB2. Over the past two seasons (combined), Martin has missed 15 games while totalling only 1,080 YFS, 25 receptions and three touchdowns. Going into 2015, however, Martin is in line for the largest share of the backfield's workload and he has looked impressive this offseason and preseason (5.9 YPC).

6.07 - Dan Yanotchko (Team II): Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets

Although he averaged a career-low 4.1 YPC, Ivory once again rushed for more than 800 yards and set a career high with six touchdowns. Despite any of the additions to the Jets' backfield, Ivory is the clear favorite to lead the team's backfield in both workload and fantasy production. More productive than most probably realized, Ivory finished as a top-24 fantasy running back (PPR) last season.

6.08 - Dan Yanotchko (Team I): Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys

Other than his rookie season, Witten's 64 receptions and 703 yards last year set or tied career lows. Witten lacks upside at this point in his career, but he should come close to last year's top-10 performance once again. If I don't get one of the top-five fantasy tight ends, however, I'd rather wait for a high-upside guy like Tyler Eifert as opposed to using a pick here on Witten.

6.09 - Kevin Hanson (Team II): Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Better suited for his return to a change-of-pace role, Bernard should still have the opportunity to be productive as a solid RB2 in PPR leagues. As an example, Jeremy Hill carried the ball 22-plus times for 100-plus yards in the team's final three regular-season games. In those same games, Bernard finished as a weekly top-12 fantasy running back in PPR-scoring formats.

As beat writer Paul Dehner Jr. noted earlier this offseason, "... once settling into a complementary role the final three weeks, [Bernard] returned to the explosive, multi-dimensional player the Bengals team envisioned."

6.10 - Kevin Hanson (Team I): Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Based on his 2014 average draft position (ADP), Roethlisberger was one of the biggest draft values last season. Only four quarterbacks scored more fantasy points and he threw for a career-high 4,952 yards, which tied Brees last season for the league lead, and 32 touchdowns, which tied a previous career high. With continuity on the offensive line and one of the league's best group of pass catchers, it wouldn't surprise me if Big Ben posted another top-five finish in 2015.

6.11 - Brendan Donahue (Team I): Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Landing in Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense bodes well for Agholor's short- and long-term fantasy outlook. While the Eagles lost Jeremy Maclin (6-0, 198, 4.48 forty) in free agency, Agholor (6-0, 198, 4.42 forty) has earned comparisons to the departed receiver. An excellent route runner, Agholor has the ability to play both inside and outside and finished with a 104/1,313/12 stat line last year for USC.

6.12 - Sean Beazley (Team I): Charles Johnson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Possessing an impressive combination of size (6-2, 225) and athleticism (sub-4.4 forty), Johnson was reunited with Norv Turner in Minnesota after being released by the receiver-deficient Browns last offseason. In the final six games of the season, Johnson was on the field for all but 19 of the team's offensive snaps. And over his final seven games, Johnson posted 25 receptions for 415 yards and two touchdowns. With a full offseason and the continued development of second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Johnson should pick up where he left off last season.

> Continue to Round 7 of our PPR Fantasy Football Mock Draft
> Go back to Round 5 of our PPR Fantasy Football Mock Draft


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Week 1 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Trifone)

Only days away from the start of the 2015 NFL season (finally, right?!), here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season:

New York Jets -3 over Cleveland Browns (3 units)

The first week of the season is always tough to pick. The preseason can only tell us so much, so there's a lot of speculation about how teams' new additions will mesh together. The Browns added journeyman quarterback Josh McCown, who has won the starting job. They have also added rookie running back Duke Johnson to pair with Isaiah Crowell out of the backfield.

The Jets, however, have made some additions of their own, adding Darrelle Revis back from New England. They also got Brandon Marshall, who combined with Eric Decker, form a pretty solid duo for a generally anemic offense.

The AFC East has improved a great deal across the board, and the Jets open with a very winnable game. I like them to limit Cleveland's offense and cover the field goal.

Washington Redskins + 4 over Miami Dolphins (4 units)

I'd expect most people to laugh at this pick. The Redskins have been an absolute mess and the RG3 drama is seemingly never ending. However, now that Kirk Cousins has been officially handed the team, I think the team is going to rally behind him. It might not last long, and by Week 7, they may be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

But for now, it's a clean slate. They can carry the emotion of having something to prove after the media circus everyone has been laughing at for the entire offseason.

I expect Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins to have a good year, and compete for the division, but I think they're going to have a tougher game than one might think Week 1. The Redskins at +160 is interesting to me, and I'm definitely taking the home underdog and the points here.

Jacksonville Jaguars +3.5 over Carolina Panthers (3 units)

The Carolina Panthers took a big blow to their seasons hopes with the loss of Kelvin Benjamin for the year. I like Cam Newton, but the NFC South has been a division in constant flux the last several years, and I'm just not a big believer in the Panthers.

They have had offensive struggles in the past, and I expect more of the same this year with Benjamin going down. Cam is looking at mediocre receivers like Ted Ginn Jr. and Jericho Cotchery. They are hoping the rookie, Devin Funchess, will step in and replace Benjamin's production, but I'm not betting on it.

The Jags have their own issues, coming off a three win season. Blake Bortles has a lot of potential, though, and I think we'll see a lot of improvement this year. I'll take another home underdog with the Jags and the points here.

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September 05, 2015

Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Green Bay Packers

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Green Bay Packers:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Aaron Rodgers372537451136.27.5482352353.24
The reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, Rodgers was also the top-scoring fantasy quarterback as well. Since becoming Green Bay's starting quarterback seven years ago, Rodgers has finished as a top-two fantasy quarterback in six of seven seasons with the lone exception due to injury (broken clavicle, 2013). Over the past four seasons, Rodgers has compiled a 139:25 TD-to-INT ratio with an average of 8.5 yards per attempt, 112.6 passer rating and 67.0 completion percentage.
Scott Tolzien12201460.90.72409.14

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Eddie Lacy272122410.6413603.6243.6
Starting slowly while facing three elite rush defenses to start the season, only DeMarco Murray and Le'Veon Bell scored more fantasy points than Lacy did from Weeks 4 to 17. Over those final 13 games of the season, he averaged 18.92 touches for 108.85 YFS per game and scored a total of 13 touchdowns. The benefit of playing with Aaron Rodgers means that opposing defenses are less likely to stack the box to (try to) slow down Lacy. After averaging a relatively modest 4.15 yards per carry as a rookie, Lacy averaged 4.63 YPC last season (and 4.89 YPC over final 13 games).
James Starks974172.6191600.676.9
The backup to one of the league's best running backs, Starks isn't going to get a heavy workload barring an injury to Eddie Lacy. As much as the team blows out their opponents, however, there is the potential for him to get some fourth-quarter carries in addition to providing a breather for Lacy.
John Kuhn2070112860.424
John Crockett361580.5643023.1

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Randall Cobb9312659.15350.1185.2
Recently turning 25, Cobb re-signed with the Packers prior to the official start of NFL free agency. Of course, playing in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense helps to maximize his fantasy value this year and going forward. Cobb finished the season with 91 receptions for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns, all of which set career highs, but I would be surprised if he scored 12 touchdowns again in 2015. That said, the season-ending ACL injury to Jordy Nelson means that Cobb should finish as a top-eight fantasy receiver in 2015.
Davante Adams729508.3000144.8
After a boost in playing time down the stretch and a strong offseason, all signs pointed to Adams taking a step forward in year two. That said, no player benefits more by Nelson's injury (from a fantasy perspective) than Adams, who finished with 38/446/3 numbers as a rookie.
Jeff Janis457156.5000110.5
With Nelson's injury, it opens the door for a receiver like Janis, or perhaps third-round rookie Ty Montgomery, to emerge as the team's No. 3 receiver. With elite measurables (6-foot-3, 219, 4.4 forty), the small-school product has plenty of upside if he's able to secure the No. 3 role.
Ty Montgomery34398216052.4

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Richard Rodgers444845.380.2
Andrew Quarless181961.327.4

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Seattle Seahawks

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Seattle Seahawks:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Russell Wilson303466370928.79.3975534.2334.36
A top-three fantasy quarterback in 2014, Wilson rushed for 849 yards and six touchdowns, both of which were career highs, and netted fantasy owners an average of 7.56 fantasy points per game from rushing stats alone. While he won't post gaudy passing statistics in Seattle's run-dominant offense, Wilson is the first quarterback in league history to throw 20-plus touchdowns with 10 or fewer interceptions in each of his first three NFL seasons, per Pro Football Reference. Wilson's volume of pass attempts may not spike in 2015, but the Seahawks pulled off a blockbuster trade for tight end Jimmy Graham, which significantly upgrades the team's weapons in the red zone.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Marshawn Lynch278123712282441.9231.5
In his four full seasons in Seattle, Lynch has rushed for 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns in those seasons. During that four-year span, no player has more rushing yards (5,357), rushing touchdowns (48) and or total touchdowns (56). Beast Mode's production hasn't slowed at all, but his physical running style (granted, he seems to dish out more punishment than he receives), heavy workload (league-high 1,479 regular-season and playoff touches over that four-year span) and age (turned 29 in April) is at least somewhat concerning. That said, Lynch seems to be a lock for another 1,200 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns in one of the league's most run-dominant offenses.
Fred Jackson642501.5292291.163.5
Although Jackson rushed for a career-low 3.7 yards per carry, he also set career highs with 66 receptions for 501 yards. In fact, Matt Forte (102) and Le'Veon Bell (83) were the only running backs that had more receptions than F-Jax last season. Released by the Bills, the 34-year-old Jackson has signed with the Seahawks, who have released Robert Turbin. With Lynch as the team's workhorse back, Jackson gives the Seahawks a smart veteran player as a change-of-pace option.
Christine Michael341560.4215019.5
Thomas Rawls291310.3216016.5

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Doug Baldwin597734140101.7
Baldwin set career highs of 66 receptions and 825 yards last season and his numbers post-Percy Harvin (4.55/58.0/0.27) were much better than they were prior to the trade (3.2/37.4/0.0). Adding Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett to the mix, however, there is little to no upside with Baldwin in Seattle's run-first offense.
Tyler Lockett344643.49630.173.7
Jermaine Kearse263772.215051.4
Chris Matthews182452.500039.5
Paul Richardson101150.900016.9
Ricardo Lockette4620.40008.6
Kevin Norwood5590.30007.7

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Jimmy Graham7291410.4153.8
Slowed by a shoulder injury, Graham had 54 yards or less in six of his final seven games last season and finished with only 889 yards, a four-year low. Over his past four seasons, however, Graham has averaged 89 catches, 1,099 yards and 12 touchdowns per year. With his trade to the Seahawks, Graham goes from an offense that averaged 41.2 pass attempts per game, second-most in the NFL last year, to one that averages the fewest (28.4/G).
Luke Willson192511.936.5

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Dallas Cowboys

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Dallas Cowboys:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Tony Romo363528435634.510.624790.1310.14
Over his past three seasons, Romo's pass attempts have dropped from 648 (2012) to 535 (2013) to 435 (2014). Despite the drop in volume, Romo threw 34 touchdowns, the most for him since 2007, with only nine interceptions, a four-year low. In addition, Romo led the league in Y/A (8.5), completion percentage (69.9), touchdown percentage (7.8) and passer rating (113.2) last year. Assuming the team stays committed to the run game without DeMarco Murray, who signed a free-agent deal with the Eagles, Romo's upside could be somewhat limited with a relatively modest uptick in pass attempts. Even with his career year in efficiency, Romo still finished just outside the top-10 fantasy quarterbacks last season.
Brandon Weeden58600.30.52303.4

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Joseph Randle22410087.4261870.5166.9
While he had only 51 carries in 2014, 11 (21.6 percent) of those 51 carries resulted in runs of more than 10 yards and he averaged 6.73 yards per carry on the season. More than anything, that production is a result of running behind one of the best offensive lines in football, which should be even better this year. His YPC average will certainly decline with a bump in volume, but Randle is expected to get the largest share of the workload within the team's committee backfield.
Darren McFadden1566634.8282070.4118.2
Since entering the league as a top-four pick, McFadden has largely disappointed fantasy owners due to durability issues or lack of production. Back in 2010 and 2011, he gave owners a glimpse of what could be with an average of 121.6 YFS per game and 5.27 YPC over 20 games played. For the first six seasons of his career, however, he missed at least three games every season and averaged only 11.17 games per year before finally playing a full 16-game season in 2014. In addition, McFadden has averaged just 3.34 YPC over the past three seasons combined. Having just turned 28, McFadden has some upside if he can stay healthy and get a significant share of the committee's workload.
Lance Dunbar682791322400.762.1
With DeMarco Murray totalling close to 500 touches including the postseason, the team's other backs had a limited role. With Murray gone, Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden figure to handle the largest share of the workload, but ESPN's Todd Archer writes that the Cowboys "plan to get Dunbar more involved in 2015" -- and this time, "the Cowboys actually mean it." With Randle and McFadden having a higher draft-day cost, Dunbar is a cheaper/additional way to get some exposure to the Cowboys backfield.

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Dez Bryant91137413.5000218.4
Targeted only 136 times, a three-year low, Bryant finished with 88 receptions for 1,320 yards and a career-high and league-leading 16 touchdowns. Dez now has at least 88 catches, 1,233 yards and 12 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons. And aside from Marshawn Lynch, Bryant is the only other player with at least 50 total touchdowns over the past four seasons.
Terrance Williams447397130116.2
With the Cowboys leaning heavily on their ground game last year, Williams saw a drop in targets (74 to 64), receptions (44 to 37) and yards (736 to 621). On a positive note, Williams had eight touchdowns with another three coming in the team's two playoff games. Going into his third season, Williams will likely remain a TD-dependent option for depth as he finished with two or fewer receptions in 12 of 16 games last year.
Cole Beasley414432.900061.7
Devin Street111320.700017.4
A.J. Jenkins9950.600013.1

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Jason Witten677485.1105.4
Other than his rookie season, Witten's 64 receptions and 703 yards last year set or tied career lows. Witten lacks upside at this point in his career, but he's a solid option that should come close to last year's top-10 performance once again.
Gavin Escobar192513.445.5

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: San Diego Chargers

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the San Diego Chargers:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Philip Rivers378565446932.81730780.1301.36
Winning the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2013, Rivers followed up his bounce-back season with 4,286 yards and 31 touchdowns but he also threw 18 interceptions. Dealing with a back injury, Rivers threw seven of those interceptions in the final three games of the season. Rivers should be a relatively safe bet for 4,000-plus yards and around 30 touchdowns once again in 2015.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Melvin Gordon23510816.6211601.1170.3
For re-draft purposes, I expect Gordon to be the most productive rookie running back in 2015. MG3 has drawn some comparisons to Jamaal Charles and he enters a relatively favorable situation with the injury-prone Ryan Mathews no longer in San Diego. The Bolts should give Gordon the bulk of the early-down work, but Philip Rivers recently said, "[i]t’s not going to be all Melvin."
Danny Woodhead913822.7524193.5117.3
Woodhead missed all but three games last season, but prior to the 2014 season, he had finished as a top-30 fantasy running back in three of his previous four seasons. In his first full season with the Chargers (2013) which also coincided with the only full season for Ryan Mathews, Woodhead had 1,034 yards from scrimmage, 76 receptions and eight total touchdowns. Even though Gordon will get the bulk of early-down work, Woodhead should get the majority of third-down snaps.
Branden Oliver552091.812890.241.8
Donald Brown401360.66450.122.3

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Keenan Allen8110326.6000142.8
While his receptions increased from 71 to 77 in 2014, Allen's yardage (1,046 to 783) and touchdowns (eight to four) both dropped and he finished as only the 48th-highest scoring wide receiver last season. Allen turned 23 this spring and should have a bounce-back season in 2015.
Steve Johnson627636.1000112.9
Last month, Philip Rivers said he'd "probably single out" Johnson as the "one guy who I was most excited about." Considering Eddie Royal finished as a top-32 fantasy receiver last season, Johnson certainly has the potential to exceed his current ADP.
Malcom Floyd447045.2000101.6
For only the second time in his career, Floyd played a full 16-game season and finished with 856 yards and six touchdowns, both of which tied career highs. Floyd played just two games in 2013, but he has averaged 17.5 Y/R and 61.7 Y/G over the past five seasons. And during that five-year stretch, he has finished as a top-38 receiver four times.
Dontrelle Inman81060.500013.6
Jacoby Jones6780.1320010.4
Titus Davis3320.10003.8

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Antonio Gates455135.785.5
Although his targets (98), receptions (69) and yards (821) were down year over year, Gates finished with 12 touchdowns, the second-most of his career, and scored more fantasy points than all tight ends not named Rob Gronkowski. That said, he enters the 2015 season facing a four-game suspension for PEDs and turned 35 years old last month.
Ladarius Green385283.674.4
Disappointing those that expected an expanded role for him within the offense last season, Green had just 19 receptions for 226 yards and no touchdowns in 2014. Meanwhile, Antonio Gates finished second among all tight ends in fantasy points in his age-34 season. For at least the first four games of the season, however, Green will see his role expand with Gates suspended.

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Indianapolis Colts

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Indianapolis Colts:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Andrew Luck386620486437.814.9622733.2377.36
Throwing for 4,761 yards and a league-leading 40 touchdowns, both of which were career highs, Luck's 40 TDs last season nearly equalled his total from his first two seasons combined (46 TDs). During the season, Luck had the second-longest streak of 300-yard games (eight) in NFL history. Not only does Luck lead one of the league's most prolific passing offenses, but he gets a boost from his mobility with at least 255 rushing yards each year and a total of 12 rushing scores.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Frank Gore26011058.1332741.5195.5
The only real concern with Gore is his age (32). That said, Gore has been durable with no missed games over the past four seasons, a span during which he has rushed for more than 1,100 yards each season. Not only does he get a huge offense and quarterback upgrade, but the coaching staff views Gore as an every-down back, which means he should be much more involved as a receiver than he has been over the past four seasons (average of 18 catches per season) in San Francisco.
Dan Herron723171.9171330.760.6
Part of last year's Boom (Herron) and Bust (Trent Richardson) backfield, Herron was the more productive back in the duo down the stretch. And in the team's three playoff games, Herron was a workhorse with a total of 298 yards from scrimmage on 65 touches including 20 receptions. With the release of Richardson but addition of Gore, Herron should handle a secondary role to Gore, who has been extremely durable -- no missed games in the past four years. That said, the 32-year-old Gore has the third-most touches (1,301 including playoffs) over that four-year span.
Josh Robinson542191.812790.141.2
Zurlon Tipton10400.121205.8

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
T.Y. Hilton8313286.62120173.6
Hilton had a breakout 82/1,345/7 season last year. And that breakout year would have been even better if he weren't limited down the stretch by a hamstring injury. With good health, Hilton could set new career highs in both receptions and yards this season.
Andre Johnson8610926.7000149.4
After back-to-back 1,400-yard seasons, Johnson finished with 85 receptions for just 936 yards and three touchdowns in 2014. Johnson's 62.4 Y/G and 11.0 Y/R were his lowest since 2005. Released by the Texans this offseason, Johnson gets a major upgrade in quarterback situation with Andrew Luck. Johnson, who turned 34 in July, may never record another 1,400-yard season, but Reggie Wayne finished with 106 catches for 1,355 yards in his age-34 season when Luck was a rookie.
Donte Moncrief365184.1210077.4
Moncrief (6-foot-2, 220 pounds, 4.4 speed) flashed his potential with a couple of big games last season -- 7/113/1 in Week 8 and 3/134/2 in Week 13. Playing only 39.1 percent of the team's offensive snaps last season, Moncrief should improve upon last year's 32/444/3 rookie campaign. The signing of Andre Johnson, who was released by the Texans, and selection of Phillip Dorsett in Round 1, however, will limit his opportunity for a true breakout season.
Phillip Dorsett344623.4321068.7
A true burner, Dorsett was one of the fastest players in this year's draft class and now the NFL. Perhaps in the lead for the No. 3 receiver role, both Dorsett and Moncrief will likely be inconsistent on a weekly basis, but we should see an occasional big week out of both of them.
Griff Whalen33200003.2

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Dwayne Allen354348.393.2
With eight touchdowns on only 29 receptions in 13 games, Allen is one of the league's better red-zone options at the position. In weeks he doesn't score, however, Allen's lack of volume (2.23 catches per game) will lead to mostly boom (scores a touchdown) or bust (doesn't score a touchdown) outcomes.
Coby Fleener40464682.4
Fleener finished with 774 yards and eight touchdowns, both of which were career highs, on 51 receptions last season. Unsurprisingly, Fleener's best games last season came in games that Dwayne Allen was out. In the four games that Allen missed or left early due to injury, Fleener had 355 yards and four touchdowns. In the other 12 games, he had just 419 yards and four touchdowns. Assuming that Fleener and Allen are healthy for the entire season, I prefer Allen over Fleener.
Jack Doyle5360.46

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: San Francisco 49ers

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the San Francisco 49ers:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Colin Kaepernick320516381822.712.9914782.1291.02
Kaepernick averaged fewer yards per attempt (7.0), threw fewer touchdowns (19) and more interceptions (10) than he did in 2013 (7.7 Y/A, 21 TDs and eight INTs) despite throwing more pass attempts (478 in 2014 vs. 416 in 2013). Given the changes to the roster and coaching staff, the 49ers should find themselves trailing (and throwing) more often in 2015. Meanwhile, the addition of Torrey Smith gives the 49ers a vertical threat that can take advantage of Kaepernick's strong arm. He also set career highs in rush attempts (105) and rushing yards (639) even though he rushed for only one touchdown last year (after nine touchdowns in the previous two years combined). While I wouldn't want to count on him as my every-week starter, few QB2 options have as much upside as Kaepernick. With all of that said, it was a less-than-inspiring preseason for Kaepernick, who had more rushing yards (62) than passing yards (40) as he completed just five of 13 pass attempts (38.5 percent, 3.1 Y/A).

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Carlos Hyde23510348.5201300.4169.8
With Frank Gore signing with the Colts, Hyde sits atop the 49ers depth chart at running back going into his second season. With Gore ahead of him on the depth chart last year, Hyde had just 83 carries for 333 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. Not only will his workload expand significantly, but I expect his effectiveness on a per-carry basis to increase from last year's 4.0 yards-per-carry average. Even though the offense has sputtered in general, Hyde has looked good this preseason (5.6 YPC).
Reggie Bush743072.9513641.794.7
Coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, Bush missed five games and gained a total of only 550 yards from scrimmage (50.0 per game) while averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and scoring just two touchdowns. Released by the Lions, Bush signed with the 49ers and will at least own a change-of-pace role to unproven second-year back Carlos Hyde.
Kendall Hunter632842.31068049
Mike Davis351471428023.5
Jarryd Hayne21880.5320013.8
While he's unlikely to make a fantasy impact, the ex-rugby star has made his share of highlights in the preseason including this "hit" in the preseason finale:

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Anquan Boldin7610125.2140132.8
Even though the 49ers have the second-fewest passing yards over the past two seasons, Boldin has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the Niners. In addition, both of his yardage totals (1,179 and 1,062, respectively) were higher than any of his previous six seasons. Boldin is unlikely to blow up for 150 yards and two touchdowns in any given week, but he provides owners with consistent production -- 50-plus receiving yards in 12 of 16 games last season.
Torrey Smith528687.2000130
Overall, it was a disappointing season for Smith, who either set or tied career lows with 49 receptions for 767 yards. On a positive note, however, Smith set a career high with 11 touchdowns and he was much more productive from Week 6 to 17. During that span, Smith averaged 3.8/59.1/0.9 per game and scored the 14th-most fantasy points among receivers on a per-game basis. One of the league's more dangerous vertical threats, Smith fills a void for the 49ers, but his weekly production could remain relatively volatile.
Jerome Simpson15209100026.9
Quinton Patton172070.800025.5
Bruce Ellington9970.65260.217.1
DeAndre Smelter5610.40008.5

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Vernon Davis42554585.4
After a 4/44/2 game to open the season, it was all downhill for Davis from there. Last season's 245 yards, 9.4 Y/R and two touchdowns either set or tied career lows for Davis, who had 792-plus yards in four of his previous five seasons with a total of 44 touchdowns during that span.
Vance McDonald101300.113.6
Blake Bell4460.25.8
Rory Anderson2240.13

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Cleveland Browns

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Cleveland Browns:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Josh McCown217355246714.612.4281290.8162.38
Even if Johnny Football weren't shut down for the rest of the preseason, McCown was expected to open the year as the team's starter. Perhaps the injury to Manziel will help McCown hold on to that role a bit longer, but it wouldn't be a surprise if Manziel is starting by the end of the season. After a 13:1 TD-to-INT ratio with the Bears in 2013, McCown posted a 11:14 ratio with the Bucs last year and a similar ratio with the Browns would accelerate McCown's return to the bench.
Johnny Manziel9115510705.44.726990.975

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Isaiah Crowell1988517.511750.1138.2
On a positive note, the coaching staff wants to lean on the rushing attack and the Browns have one of the better run-blocking offensive lines, when healthy. On a less positive note, the coaching staff's allocation of carries was unpredictable on a weekly basis as the guy with the "best practice" during the week got the most carries last year. Adding Duke Johnson to the mix only creates more uncertainty in projecting how things will shake out in Cleveland's backfield, but I still expect Crowell to lead the backfield in touches and (fantasy) production (although it might be by a narrow margin).
Duke Johnson1185253.8413491.4118.6
The all-time rushing leader at The U., Johnson's production is especially impressive considering the school's alumni of talented backs (Frank Gore, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, etc.). While I like Johnson's skill set and his longer-term outlook, there could be some week-to-week variability in Johnson's rookie-season production. With that said, few running backs have generated as much buzz during the offseason and he appears set for a prominent role as a rookie.
Terrance West1255133.512720.582.5
The frustrating part of owning a Browns running back is the inconsistency in carries. In West's final seven games played last season, here are his rush attempts: 26, 5, 14, 7, 15, 5 and 18. Reducing workload predictability for West is the selection of Miami's Duke Johnson in the third round of this year's draft.

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Dwayne Bowe566834.200093.5
Well, at least Bowe can't have fewer touchdown receptions in 2015. Unfortunately though, the eight-year veteran's zero touchdowns were tied with me. After back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons in 2010 and 2011, Bowe has 801, 673 and 754 receiving yards in his past three seasons, respectively. Bowe may be one of a few free-agent wide receivers where Cleveland as a landing spot doesn't necessarily hurt his fantasy stock. Although it doesn't necessarily help it, either. (No team threw fewer touchdowns than the Browns last season, but at least some of them went to wide receivers.)
Brian Hartline40496200061.6
Andrew Hawkins374221.8312054.2
Taylor Gabriel182611.228034.1
Terrelle Pryor121781.18560.130.6
Travis Benjamin81280.700017
Vince Mayle2240.10003

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Rob Housler334133.260.5
Under-utilized within Arizona's offense, Housler has averaged just 1.9/20.6 per game with only one touchdown in 55 games over four seasons with the Cardinals. With Josh Gordon suspended for the 2015 season, the Browns have one of the least-talented groups of pass catchers, which could lead to the athletic Housler setting new career highs in his first season with the Browns. Then again, he has been less than impressive so far in his stint with the Browns.
E.J. Bibbs151931.528.3
Gary Barnidge121401.221.2
Jim Dray11103116.3

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Jameis Winston359585424127.518.7351020.4273.54
Despite his past off-the-field concerns, Winston possesses strong on-field intangibles (leadership skills and football intelligence) that you'd want in a franchise quarterback. Based on the style of Florida State's offense and the pair of 6-foot-5 1,000-yard receivers (Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson) already on Tampa's roster, Winston has the potential to make more of a fantasy impact early in his career than fellow rookie Marcus Mariota. In addition, Winston has the softest fantasy football strength of schedule among QBs going into the 2015 season.
Mike Glennon12201361.40.812010.44

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Doug Martin2209356.4312020.5155.1
Just a couple of seasons ago, Martin racked up 1,926 yards from scrimmage, 49 receptions and 12 touchdowns in 16 games as a rookie when he finished the year as fantasy's RB2. Over the past two seasons (combined), Martin has missed 15 games while totalling only 1,080 YFS, 25 receptions and three touchdowns. Going into 2015, however, Martin is in line for the largest share of the backfield's workload and he has looked impressive this offseason and preseason (5.9 YPC).
Charles Sims1325082.4423571.2108.1
The current regime inherited Doug Martin, but used a relatively early pick on the versatile Sims, who rushed for 3,465 yards in college but also added 203 receptions for 2,108 yards. Missing the first eight games of his NFL career, Sims was less than impressive when healthy over the rest of his rookie season -- 2.8 yards per carry -- and is clearly behind Martin on the depth chart entering 2015.
Bobby Rainey582381.3161090.545.5
Mike James12410.20005.3

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Mike Evans7611939.8000178.1
Not only was he one of three rookie receivers to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, but Evans was one of just five receivers to score at least 12 touchdowns last year. From Weeks 9 to 11, he gave us a glimpse of what we can expect when things really click as he posted a massive 21/458/5 line over that three-game stretch. Evans, who turned 22 in August, should take a step forward in 2015 although there may be some early-season inconsistency playing with a rookie quarterback.
Vincent Jackson689916.6000138.7
The good news is that Jackson eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth consecutive season and sixth time in the past seven years -- the exception was his holdout-shortened 2010 season. The bad news is V-Jax had just two touchdowns, the lowest of his career since his three-catch rookie season (2005). Jackson should score more touchdowns in 2015, but the 32-year-old receiver is clearly the No. 2 receiver to Mike Evans.
Louis Murphy465473.200073.9
Robert Herron161570.500018.7

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Austin Seferian-Jenkins485575.387.5
Seferian-Jenkins played only nine games in his rookie season and finished with 21 catches for 221 yards and two touchdowns. With good health in 2015, however, there is some breakout appeal for ASJ.
Tim Wright141471.523.7
Brandon Myers201860.320.4

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: New York Giants

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the New York Giants:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Eli Manning399615470533.215.415320.4311.2
In the first six games of the season, Eli finished outside the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks in all but one game. Over the final 10 games of the season, however, Manning posted five weekly top-five performances. With better health from his wide receivers and the free-agent addition of Shane Vereen, a talented receiver out of the backfield, plus more comfort and familiarity with Ben McAdoo's offense, Eli has the potential to post career numbers in 2015. In addition, only Tampa and Washington have a more favorable fantasy strength of schedule than Eli does.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Rashad Jennings2148886.6272080.5152.2
Dealing with multiple injuries, Jennings played in just 11 games in his first season with the Giants and the 30-year-old back has had a spotty durability history. Second-year back Andre Williams will steal some goal-line opportunities and Shane Vereen will steal some of his passing-down work, which limits his weekly upside. On a positive note, the Giants used the ninth-overall pick on Ereck Flowers, one of the best run-blocking offensive linemen in this year's draft class. Only the Cardinals (3.3) and Chargers (3.4) averaged fewer YPC than the Giants (3.6) last season and at least part of those struggles can be attributed to the line play.
Shane Vereen803441.7544562.5105.2
Vereen is one of the league's better receiving backs and he set career highs last year with 52 catches for 447 yards. Especially with both Jennings and Andre Williams likely to get more carries, Vereen is a better fantasy running back in PPR formats, but he should be in the flex mix on a weekly basis in standard-scoring formats as well.
Andre Williams1103745638071.2
As a rookie, Williams led the team in carries (217), rushing yards (721) and rushing touchdowns (seven), but he averaged just 3.3 YPC and exceeded 3.5 YPC in only three games. Over the final four games of the season, the 230-pound back had 83 carries for 328 yards (3.95 YPC) and two touchdowns. Williams may only be the third-most productive fantasy back behind Jennings and Vereen, but he could be first in line for goal-line carries.

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Odell Beckham97133910.59500201.9
Closing the season with nine consecutive games of 90-plus yards, Beckham racked up a massive stat line of 81/1,199/9 on 115 targets during that stretch. In fact, only 11 other receivers had more yards in all of 2014 than OBJ had in his final nine games. And as impressive as that sounds, he was even more dominant over his final four games -- 43/606/7 on 63 targets. While ODB is far from being the biggest receiver, his combination of hands, route-running ability, speed and elusiveness makes him nearly impossible to cover especially in today's age of offense-friendly rules.
Rueben Randle628876.3000126.5
A top-35 fantasy wide receiver last season, Randle finished with 71 receptions for 938 yards and three touchdowns on 127 targets. Part of the improvement was due to Victor Cruz's injury, but Randle just turned 24 years old and Eli Manning has predicted a "breakout" season for Randle in 2015.
Victor Cruz607625.5000109.2
With his season cut short after six games due to a torn patellar tendon, Cruz averaged just 56.2 yards per game, a four-year low, with only one touchdown. While he avoided the PUP list to start the season, there is still significant separation between Cruz and and the team's new No. 1 wide receiver, Odell Beckham. In addition, a strained calf has put his Week 1 status in doubt.
James Jones161951.400027.9
Corey Washington8941.200016.6
Dwayne Harris3350.21405.1

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Larry Donnell515263.875.4
At this point last year, nobody projected that Donnell would finish as a top-12 fantasy tight end, but that's exactly what he did in 2014. Donnell was especially good in the first four games (25/236/4 and fifth-most TE fantasy points). Coincidentally, OBJ missed the first four games of the season. After scoring 45.6 fantasy points in the first four games of the season, however, Donnell scored only 44.7 fantasy points (3.73/G) in the final 12 games.
Daniel Fells131451.322.3
Adrien Robinson22002

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September 04, 2015

Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Pittsburgh Steelers

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Pittsburgh Steelers:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Ben Roethlisberger41161548893212.931900.2320.86
Based on his 2014 average draft position (ADP), Roethlisberger was one of the biggest draft values last season. Only four quarterbacks scored more fantasy points and he threw for a career-high 4,952 yards, which tied Drew Brees last season for the league lead, and 32 touchdowns, which tied a previous career high. With continuity on the offensive line and one of the league's best group of pass catchers, it wouldn't surprise me if Big Ben posted another top-five finish in 2015.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Le'Veon Bell25311519.6656052.4247.6
Unfortunately for Bell (and his fantasy owners), he's suspended for the first two games of the season (although that was cut from his initial three-game ban). Once he returns, however, Bell's versatility makes him a true three-down back and his production won't vary much based on game flow. Named 2014 AP First-Team All-Pro Team, Bell racked up 1,361 rushing yards, 83 receptions for 854 yards and 11 total touchdowns in his second season. Bell broke single-season franchise records for yards from scrimmage and receptions by a running back. Over the course of last year, he averaged 17.97 fantasy points per game although his production spiked to 24.7/G with LeGarrette Blount out of the picture down the stretch.
DeAngelo Williams833071.7171270.154.2
Williams has had some really productive NFL seasons -- 1,515 rushing yards and 18 rushing scores in 2008, as an example -- and has averaged 4.78 YPC over his career. Now 32 years old, Williams won't be the featured back for his new team (starting in Week 3). With Le'Veon Bell suspended for the first two games, however, Williams is expected to lead the team's backfield in touches during that span. After that point, however, Williams would do well to average five carries per game over the final 14 games.
Dri Archer227701260013.7
Josh Harris24820.10008.8

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Antonio Brown113151411.55230222.7
Surprisingly, Brown never finished as the highest-scoring fantasy wide receiver in any given week in 2014. (In fact, that applies to both standard- and PPR-scoring formats.) Yet no wide receiver had more fantasy points over the course of the season -- in either format -- than Brown. Over the past two seasons, Brown has a combined 239 receptions for 3,197 yards and 21 touchdowns. More impressive than his overall level of production, however, is his consistency. Counting the playoffs, Brown has at least five catches and 50 yards in 33 consecutive games.
Martavis Bryant457616.23150114.8
Inactive for the first six games, Bryant went on a scoring spree in his first four NFL games with a total of six touchdowns during that span. After that point, however, Bryant had just 12 catches for 239 yards and two touchdowns in the final six games of the season. Not only does he currently project as the team's No. 3 receiver, Bryant will miss the first four games of the season due to league suspension.
Markus Wheaton677675.83120112.7
Wheaton barely finished as a top-60 fantasy receiver (either format) last year with his 53/644/2 slash line, but he should improve upon those numbers in year three. Per NFL Network's Albert Breer, Wheaton "[probably] had best offseason of the Steelers WRs." And Big Ben has predicted a breakout season for Wheaton.
Sammie Coates141871.100025.3
Darrius Heyward-Bey101050.500013.5

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Heath Miller596553.385.3
Miller parlayed 91 targets last season into a 66/761/3 stat line, which was good for the 11th-most fantasy points among tight ends in 2014. While he only has four touchdowns in 30 games over the past two seasons, but he has a chance to rank inside the top 10 among tight ends in targets and receptions in 2015.
Jesse James7810.511.1
Matt Spaeth2240.66

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Miami Dolphins

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Miami Dolphins:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Ryan Tannehill388592423328.413583341.5312.32
Tannehill posted career highs in passing yards (4,045), passing touchdowns (27) and completion percentage (66.4) with a career low in interceptions (12) in his first year playing for new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. In addition, he rushed for a career-high 311 yards, which ranked fifth among all quarterbacks last season. Starting in Week 6, Tannehill finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in six of 11 weeks, but he finished with the eighth-most fantasy points over the full season. The team's group of top pass-catchers was entirely turned over except for Jarvis Landry, but Tannehill has some upside for those that wait on quarterback in 2015.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Lamar Miller22410867.2382700.8183.6
The Dolphins coaching staff seemed reluctant to give Miller as much work as his fantasy owners would have liked, but Miller was highly productive on a per-touch basis (5.09 YPC, 7.24 Y/R). With more than 15 carries in only four games last season, Miller still managed to post his first-ever 1,000-yard season (1,099 rushing yards). In addition, Miller was very consistent throughout the season as he finished as a top-21 fantasy running back in 12 of 16 weeks.
Damien Williams763191.6151020.252.9
Going into the 2015 season, Williams -- not rookie Jay Ajayi -- is the backup (handcuff) to Miller, but it would take an injury to Miller for him to be fantasy-relevant.
Jay Ajayi542382.3181220.351.6
There were concerns with Ajayi's knee, but it really surprised me that he slipped all the way to fifth round. As noted earlier, the Dolphins seemed fairly reluctant to give Lamar Miller a large workload and the versatile Ajayi is a downhill runner with excellent size (6-0, 221) that also displayed excellent pass-catching ability (50 receptions for 536 yards) last season as well. That said, Ajayi battled a hamstring earlier in camp and cracked a rib in Week 4 of the preseason.
LaMichael James12470.132107.4

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Jarvis Landry929386270130.5
Among rookies, only his ex-LSU teammate Odell Beckham (91) had more receptions than Landry (84) last season. Over the final nine games of the season, Landry had a minimum of five receptions every game and racked up a total of 59 catches over that span. In addition, he had at least nine targets in six of his final eight games. Even better in PPR formats, Landry should improve upon his 84/758/5 rookie numbers.
DeVante Parker486365.300095.4
With the exception of Jarvis Landry, all of Miami's top pass-catchers are newcomers including first-round rookie DeVante Parker. The 6-foot-3 Parker missed the first seven games of the season with a foot injury, but he closed the season with 43 catches for 855 yards and five touchdowns in just six games. Parker had foot injury and missed much of training camp, but he did return for the preseason finale, which bodes well for his Week 1 availability.
Kenny Stills456574.200090.9
Stills set career highs with 63 receptions for a team-high 931 yards in his second season with the Saints, but he was traded to the Dolphins this offseason. One of the areas in which Ryan Tannehill has struggled is his downfield accuracy, which doesn't necessarily bode well for the speedy Stills.
Greg Jennings323683.300056.6
Rishard Matthews151671.400025.1

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Jordan Cameron617105.1101.6
In 2013, Cameron had a breakout season with 80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. When healthy, he is clearly a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Unfortunately, Cameron missed six games last season and has a history of concussions. Perhaps no injury is more worrisome from a fantasy outlook given the greater susceptibility and unpredictability of a recurrence. If Cameron plays 16 games in 2015, however, he has top-five upside.
Dion Sims212421.835

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Detroit Lions

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Detroit Lions:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Matthew Stafford394638467729.21639821.9307.48
No quarterback underachieved expectations more last season than Stafford, who finished as the QB15 in 2014. Even with the free-agent signing and breakout season from Golden Tate (99/1,331/4), Stafford threw for only 4,247 yards, a four-year low, and 22 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. With better health from Calvin Johnson, who missed a few games and was a decoy in others, Stafford should post better numbers in 2015.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Joique Bell1967947.1312800.4152.4
Scoring the 14th-most fantasy points among running backs in 2014, Bell finished with 223 carries for 860 yards, both of which were career highs, as well as 34 receptions for 322 yards and eight total touchdowns. That said, it was the second consecutive season that Bell has averaged under 4.0 YPC. While I expect Bell to lead the team's backfield in touches in 2015, second-round rookie Ameer Abdullah weakens Bell's grip on the featured-back role and it wouldn't surprise me if Abdullah emerged as the lead back at some point during the season.
Ameer Abdullah1647465.7423490.9149.1
At only 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, Abdullah may lack the ideal size to be a bellcow back, but he has been impressive in both offseason workouts and the preseason. In addition, Abdullah posted three consecutive 1,100-yard seasons including back-to-back 1,600-yard campaigns at Nebraska. Among running backs at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, Abdullah finished first in the vertical jump (42.5 inches), broad jump (10-10), 3-cone drill (6.79) and 20-yard shuttle (3.95). Abdullah should begin the season behind Joique Bell on the depth chart, but his role within the offense should expand as the season progresses.
Theo Riddick26810.3231980.633.3
Riddick had 34 receptions for 316 yards and four touchdowns in his second season and prior to the draft, it seemed like Riddick would have a legitimate opportunity to take a big step forward in 2015. With the addition of Ameer Abdullah to the team's backfield, however, those expectations have been tempered.
Zach Zenner21900.4321013.5

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Calvin Johnson9314429.7000202.4
Including playoff appearances, Megatron has more 200-yard games (six) than any other receiver in league history. And while he still has as much potential as any receiver to take over a given game, he has missed a total of five games in 2013 and 2014. Johnson also appeared in a few games as a decoy, which can be even worse for fantasy owners than missed games. With five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, however, Megatron has averaged a stat line of 90/1,467/11 during that span.
Golden Tate8010006.25300140.2
Tate had a career year with 99 catches for 1,331 yards and four touchdowns plus 30 rushing yards. From Weeks 4 to 8, Calvin Johnson missed three games and was a decoy in two other games (19 total yards). During that same five-game span, Tate averaged 119.8 yards per game and scored three of his four touchdowns. If Megatron is healthy for the entire season, Tate is unlikely to repeat last year's career numbers, but he's otherwise a solid low-end WR2 in 2015.
Corey Fuller223211.600041.7
Greg Salas101050.800015.3
Jeremy Ross81000.600013.6

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Eric Ebron485245.283.6
Rookie tight ends typically struggle and Ebron, the 10th-overall pick in 2014, posted a modest 25/248/1 stat line over 13 games last season. There is plenty of upside with Ebron, but he needs to cut down on drops, which were still a problem in the offseason.
Tim Wright141471.523.7
Joseph Fauria8921.115.8
Brandon Pettigrew12980.613.4

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Houston Texans

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Houston Texans:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Brian Hoyer273453331618.613.127410.1198.64
Hoyer has won the starting gig over Ryan Mallett, but his grip on that spot is far from lock-tight. And no team ran the ball more than the Texans, who ranked last in the NFL in passing-play percentage (48.07 percent) last year. There is little reason to expect a significant change in philosophy regardless of which quarterback is under center in 2015.
Ryan Mallett31563892.1231022.06
Tom Savage36400.10.10001.9

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Arian Foster2169506.9292392172.3
Not only did the Texans lead the NFL in rushing attempts (551), Foster is one of the league's few true workhorse backs, when healthy. Although Foster missed three games in 2014, he averaged 95.8 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry, both of which were four-year highs, and scored double-digit touchdowns (13). In addition, Foster finished as a top-five fantasy running back and was a top-12 fantasy running back in 10 of 13 weeks last season. Rehabbing from his recent groin surgery, there is growing optimism that Foster will only miss a few games as opposed to half the season.
Alfred Blue1545082.321151185.7
Blue averaged just 3.1 YPC as a rookie last season and he backs up one of the league's few workhorses in Arian Foster, but he finished as a top-40 fantasy running back in 2014. Ranked 24th in carries (169) last season, Blue will open the season as the team's starting running back while Foster recovers and rehabs the groin surgery he had in early August.
Jonathan Grimes803040.75370.138.9
Chris Polk481801213025.3
Kenny Hilliard18720.4319011.5

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
DeAndre Hopkins8112396.7000164.1
Emerging as the team's most productive wide receiver last season, Hopkins took a huge step forward in his second season with a 76/1,210/6 stat line and the team released Andre Johnson in the offseason. If there's any concern when it comes to Hopkins taking another step forward in his third season, it's the team's less-than-inspiring quarterback play, but he's a borderline WR1/WR2 option in fantasy leagues heading into 2015.
Nate Washington416192.900079.3
Cecil Shorts525773.100076.3
Shorts has seen his production decline in each of the past three seasons: 55/979/4 (2012), 66/777/3 (2013) and 53/557/1 (2014). Signing with the Texans this offseason, Shorts could finish second among the team's receivers in receptions and targets behind Hopkins, but he's unlikely to be useful in 12-team leagues.
Jaelen Strong314152.800058.3
Keshawn Martin3350.10004.1

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Garrett Graham252751.335.3
Ryan Griffin6660.49
C.J. Fiedorowicz8600.48.4

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Cincinnati Bengals

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Cincinnati Bengals:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Andy Dalton346535401326.518.7581682.6280.22
Through four seasons in the NFL, Dalton has finished as the QB18, QB12, QB5 and QB19, respectively. In his first season in Hue Jackson's offense, his pass attempts dropped from a career-high 586 in 2013 to a career-low 481 in 2014. With A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert all missing significant time in 2014, it's possible that my projection for Dalton is too low, especially if his pass-catchers can stay healthy in 2015.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Jeremy Hill295140110.3251850.3222.2
Over the final nine games of the season, Hill had 22-plus carries and 100-plus rushing yards five times including the final three games of the regular season. During that nine-game span, Hill had 172 carries for 929 yards and six touchdowns and no running back had more rushing yards than Hill during that stretch. (Lynch was second with 824 yards.) Going into the 2015 season, Hill is clearly the team's lead back with Giovani Bernard back as the change-of-pace option.
Giovani Bernard1406023.6625643.2157.4
Better suited for his return to a change-of-pace role, Bernard should still have the opportunity to be productive as an low-end RB2/flex in fantasy leagues. As an example, Jeremy Hill carried the ball 22-plus times for 100-plus yards in the team's final three regular-season games. In those same games, Bernard finished as the weekly RB11, RB17 and RB13, respectively, in standard-scoring formats. As beat writer Paul Dehner Jr. noted earlier this offseason, "... once settling into a complementary role the final three weeks, [Bernard] returned to the explosive, multi-dimensional player the Bengals team envisioned."
Rex Burkhead8280.112920.213.8

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
A.J. Green8812769.92110188.1
Injuries kept Green from building upon his 2013 numbers (98/1,426/11), but he extended his streak of 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career to four. Only Megatron (6,214), Brown (5,092) and Demaryius (5,034) have more yards during that four-year span than Green (4,874). With good health, Green is a good bet for 1,300 yards and double-digit touchdowns in 2015.
Marvin Jones425594.5318084.7
Two seasons ago, Jones broke out with 51 catches for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns, but he missed all of last season. Healthy now, he should move back into the team's No. 2 receiver role, but the Bengals ranked near the bottom of the league in pass attempts (31.7/G) last season.
Mohamed Sanu303032.6418047.7
With the injuries to the team's top receivers, Sanu had the best season of his career with 56 catches for 790 yards and five touchdowns. As the team's No. 3 receiver in 2015, it will likely take more injuries for him to repeat that production.
Brandon Tate67300007.3

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Tyler Eifert587064.9100
Eifert's 2014 season ended almost as soon as it began with a dislocated elbow injury in Week 1. As a rookie and part of a timeshare with Jermaine Gresham, Eifert posted a solid 39/445/2 line in 2013. With Gresham now gone and Eifert healthy, Eifert will be counted on to be a significant part of their passing attack. Provided he stays healthy, it wouldn't surprise me if the former first-round pick finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end in 2015.
Tyler Kroft161790.822.7
C.J. Uzomah44404.4

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: New York Jets

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the New York Jets:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Ryan Fitzpatrick296478344224.415.3632841.6257.98
Due to Geno Smith's broken jaw, Fitzpatrick enters 2015 as the team's starting quarterback and there is a good chance that he maintains that role throughout the year. Being reunited with Chan Gailey should bode well for Fitzpatrick as his three most productive seasons (2010 to 2012) occurred within Gailey's offense at Buffalo.
Geno Smith22362561.61290.117.14
It wasn't a great 2014 season for Geno, but he did improve his completion percentage to 59.7 percent (from 55.8 percent as a rookie) and his TD-to-INT ratio to 13:13 (from 12:21). And while the team has an improved group of wide receivers (Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and rookie Devin Smith), Smith's broken jaw has opened up the door for Fitzpatrick to enter 2015 as the starter.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Chris Ivory2089267.3161040.2148
Although he averaged a career-low 4.1 YPC, Ivory once again rushed for more than 800 yards and set a career high with six touchdowns. Despite any of the additions to the Jets' backfield, Ivory is the clear favorite to lead the team's backfield in both workload and fantasy production. More productive than most probably realized, Ivory finished as a top-20 fantasy running back last season.
Bilal Powell542241.8302340.358.4
As the favorite for third-down snaps, Powell is a slightly better option in PPR formats than standard-scoring leagues, but he doesn't offer much upside in either format.
Stevan Ridley703012.5423047.4
Coming off a torn ACL and MCL, Ridley signed a one-year free-agent deal with the Jets, but he's expected to start the season on the reserve/PUP list, which would cost him at least the first six games of the season.
Zac Stacy451781.6320029.4

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Brandon Marshall8210098000148.9
A lot went wrong for Marshall and the Bears offense last season as he missed multiple games, was limited in others, Jay Cutler struggled and was benched, etc. Marshall posted his lowest totals for both receptions (61) and yards (721) since his rookie season, but he was traded to the Jets in the offseason and gets a fresh start. A return to his 2012 or 2013 numbers appear unlikely, but I expect a bounce-back season in the 1,000-yard range. Before last year, Marshall had seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Eric Decker668727.3000131
Unsurprisingly, Decker's first year with the Jets (74/962/5) was worse than his two previous seasons with the Broncos (and Peyton Manning), but he still finished as a top-30 fantasy wide receiver in both standard- and PPR-scoring formats. Both of Decker's 100-yard games came in the final three weeks of the season including a massive 10/221/1 line against the Dolphins in Week 17. Given the team's quarterback situation, Decker's upside is capped, but the addition of Marshall as a true No. 1 wide receiver should take the attention off of Decker.
Devin Smith183063.100049.2
Jeremy Kerley353751.4315047.4
Quincy Enunwa202411.800034.9
Chris Owusu4460.31607
Shaq Evans22200002.2

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Jeff Cumberland263022.645.8
Wes Saxton12144120.4

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Philadelphia Eagles

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Philadelphia Eagles:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Sam Bradford377577441427.912.728640.7286.06
In five NFL seasons since being drafted first overall by the Rams, Bradford has played a total of 49 games -- and only seven of 32 games in the past two years. If, a big if, Bradford starts 16 games for the Eagles, however, he has the potential to finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in 2015. The duo of Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez combined to throw 4,581 yards, 27 touchdowns and 21 interceptions last season and score 258.74 fantasy points, which would have placed them 14th among quarterbacks last year.
Mark Sanchez23362661.71.27200.320.04
Tim Tebow36360.10.31672114.74

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
DeMarco Murray276125610.5282130.2211.1
Murray has always been productive on a per-game, per-touch basis. Before last season's career year, Murray averaged 4.95 yards per carry in his first three seasons combined. The issue with Murray (before 2014) was durability as he missed multiple games in each of those three seasons. With a total of 497 touches including the playoffs last year, durability remains Murray's biggest concern in 2015 as well. Even though the team added another talented (and injury-prone) running back (Ryan Mathews) in free agency, I'd expect Murray to still get close to 20 touches per game, when healthy. But will he hold up for another full season?
Ryan Mathews1466575.5201510.1114.4
Mathews has struggled with durability as he has played a full 16-game season only once in his five-year career. That said, he has been productive when on the field with a pair of 1,000-yard seasons under his belt a career 4.40 YPC average. While he enters 2015 second on the depth chart behind last year's rushing champion, DeMarco Murray has his own durability concerns as he is coming off a massive 497-touch season counting the playoffs.
Darren Sproles421931.5534881.485.5
Replacing LeSean McCoy with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews means that Sproles goes from second in line for touches to third. That said, Chip Kelly should continue to find ways to get Sproles the ball in space and recently described him as a "Swiss army knife."

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Jordan Matthews8411179.3000167.5
Playing only 65.0 percent of the team's offensive snaps as a rookie, that ratio will undoubtedly spike in his second season as the team lost Jeremy Maclin via free agency. Even if the Eagles were able to re-sign Maclin, I would have expected Matthews to play in two-WR sets ahead of Riley Cooper, who played in 81.7 percent of offensive snaps. In his first season in the league, Matthews finished with 67 receptions for 872 yards and eight touchdowns and finished as a top-25 fantasy wide receiver.
Nelson Agholor658766.26450.1129.9
Landing in Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense bodes well for Agholor's short- and long-term fantasy outlook. While the Eagles lost Jeremy Maclin (6-0, 198, 4.48 forty) in free agency, Agholor (6-0, 198, 4.42 forty) has earned comparisons to the departed receiver. An excellent route runner, Agholor has the ability to play both inside and outside and finished with a 104/1,313/12 stat line last year for USC.
Josh Huff324032.416055.3
Riley Cooper24278200039.8
Miles Austin9950.300011.3

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Zach Ertz567174.498.1
Ertz saw a year-over-year jump from 36 catches and 469 yards as a rookie to 58 catches for 702 yards, 11th-most among tight ends last season. With Jeremy Maclin leaving Philadelphia for Kansas City, however, Ertz should become even more involved in the passing game. That said, he was still working with the second-team offense before undergoing a surgery to repair a groin tear and it's unclear if he'll be ready to go Week 1 against the Falcons.
Brent Celek323783.458.2

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Oakland Raiders

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Oakland Raiders:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Derek Carr365597411924.813.732960.1260.46
Only three teams threw the ball more than the Raiders in 2014 and Carr gets a boost to his receiving corps with rookie Amari Cooper and free-agent addition Michael Crabtree. While Carr posted a very solid 21-to-12 TD-to-INT ratio as a rookie, he averaged an anemic 5.5 Y/A.
Matt McGloin9151010.70.92406.34

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Latavius Murray25211346322590.2176.5
Loaded with potential and upside, Murray is a physical freak that runs a sub-4.4 forty at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds. Murray finally got a chance to showcase what he could do down the stretch last season as he gained 478 yards from scrimmage over his final five games on a total of 83 touches (72 carries and 11 receptions). With the changes to the team's backfield, Murray will be given every opportunity to be the team's lead back in 2015.
Roy Helu823691.8443560.586.3
In four seasons, Helu has been relatively productive on a per-touch basis (4.4 YPC, 8.9 Y/R). At a minimum, Helu will get a lot of work as the team's third-down back, but there is upside with unproven Latavius Murray as the featured back.
Marcel Reece18770.6292231.240.8

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Amari Cooper7810317.2000146.3
No rookie receiver is more pro-ready than Cooper, the first Biletnikoff winner in Alabama history. Cooper racked up 124 receptions for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and should become Derek Carr's go-to receiver immediately for a team that ranked fourth in the league in pass attempts per game (39.3) in 2014.
Michael Crabtree565994.700088.1
Since his breakout 2012 season (85/1,105/9) and tearing his Achilles the following offseason, Crabtree has a total of 87 receptions for 982 yards and five touchdowns in 21 regular-season games. Crabtree signed a one-year free-agent deal with the Raiders, but rookie Amari Cooper should emerge as Derek Carr's go-to receiver sooner rather than later.
Rod Streater415622.800073
Streater missed all but three games last season and posted a 60/888/4 line in 2013. By drafting Amari Cooper and signing Michael Crabtree, however, Streater is unlikely to approach his 2013 numbers.
Andre Holmes233361.800044.4
Holmes has averaged 15.6 yards per reception over the past two years, but he'll be little more than a situational deep threat for the team that ranked 32nd in the NFL in pass yards per attempt last season.
Brice Butler121940.800024.2

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Mychal Rivera373853.760.7
Finishing as a top-20 tight end in both scoring formats, Rivera had 58 catches for 534 yards and four touchdowns in his second NFL season. With the selection of Clive Walford in the third round this year, however, Rivera's upside is capped. And although rookie tight ends generally struggle, it wouldn't surprise me if the more talented Walford becomes the more productive of the duo as the season progresses.
Clive Walford222752.643.1

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Atlanta Falcons

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Atlanta Falcons:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Matt Ryan425630485130.215.425930.1309.34
Ryan has more than 4,500 passing yards in three consecutive seasons with the third-most (13,928) over that span. In addition, he has 26-plus touchdowns in five consecutive seasons and the sixth-most (143) during that span. The good news is that Ryan has finished as a top-eight fantasy quarterback in four of the past five years, which makes him a solid mid-QB1 option to target. That said, he has yet to finish as a top-six fantasy quarterback in his career.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Tevin Coleman1928546.1201260.3136.4
The biggest home run threat in college football last year, Coleman rushed for 2,036 yards on 270 carries with four 200-yard games and eight 60-yard runs, most in both categories. Clearly, that won't be repeated at the NFL level, but it illustrates his big-play ability as he joins one of the league's better offenses. With a committee approach between Coleman and second-year back Devonta Freeman expected to start the season, Coleman is likely to see his usage expand as the season develops.
Devonta Freeman1606564.6392850.9127.1
During the draft process last year, Freeman drew some comparisons to Frank Gore. Meanwhile, new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said that he "loved" Freeman when evaluating him last year. Averaging just 3.8 yards per carry as a rookie, Freeman had eight or fewer carries in all but one game, but he also finished with 30 receptions. Freeman played on just 21.5 percent of Atlanta's offensive snaps last season and at a minimum, he should see a huge bump in snaps, touches and production in 2015 as he figures to begin the season atop the depth chart.
Antone Smith563221.71196158

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Julio Jones10515659.8260215.9
Jones finished with 104 catches for 1,593 yards, both of which shattered his previous career highs, and six touchdowns in 2014. After scoring 0.62 TD/G on 74.4 YPG in his first two seasons, Jones has averaged just 0.40 TD/G despite a jump to 1087.7 YPG over the past two seasons. With plus size and speed, Jones should bounce back in terms of red-zone production and could put together a 100/1,500/10 season in 2015 with good health.
Roddy White798976.4000128.1
Coming off a disappointing season, White still averaged a respectable 5.71 catches and 65.79 yards per game with seven touchdowns. Had he not missed two games, he was on a 16-game pace of 91/1,053/8. With White having "minor" elbow surgery recently, turning 34 in November and Julio Jones now the clear-cut No. 1 wideout on the team, however, White would do well to reach the 1,000-yard mark in 2015.
Leonard Hankerson526604.600093.6
Essentially missing all of last season, Hankerson has played only 31 games over the first four years of his career, but he's had a good offseason and training camp in his first year with the Falcons. As the team's No. 3 receiver, Hankerson has some upside if either Jones or White misses time.
Devin Hester263301.1420041.6
Justin Hardy242381.200031

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Jacob Tamme332971.941.1
Tony Moeaki262861.537.6
Levine Toilolo10711.516.1

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: New England Patriots

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the New England Patriots:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Tom Brady389602445536.18.435420.5321.4
With Judge Berman nullifying the four-game suspension for Brady, it's great to have a resolution (sort of, sans the NFL's appeal) to the Deflategate drama. After a slow start last season as Rob Gronkowski worked his way back from a torn ACL, only Peyton Manning (31) threw more touchdowns than Brady (29) from Weeks 5 to 17. During that span, Brady scored the fifth-most fantasy points among QBs on a per-game basis. Assuming continued good health for Gronk, Brady could finish as a top-five fantasy QB in 2015.
Jimmy Garoppolo712830.50.42805.72

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
LeGarrette Blount2008809.610560.1151.8
As we've seen from Blount in the postseason, he can go from one yard on three carries (vs. BAL) one week to 30 carries for 148 yards and three touchdowns (vs. IND) the next week. Blount's carries in his final six games through the Super Bowl were as follows: 20, eight, 10, three, 30 and 14. While we can't always count on consistent running back workloads from Belichick, Blount figures to be the "guy" in the Patriots' backfield. And Blount has been dominant at the goal line for the Patriots with 15 rushing scores in his past 15 games (including playoffs) with the Pats.
Dion Lewis462022.3302351.164.1
The departure of Shane Vereen in free agency opens the door for a new third-down back in New England. Among the options on the roster, Lewis appears to have "won" that role. That said, I expect a committee, if you will, of backs to handle the 606 snaps Vereen played last season with Lewis getting the largest share.
Jonas Gray81356329054.5
Perhaps only in New England can a running back go from 201 yards and four touchdowns one week to getting no snaps the next (and then remain in the doghouse for the rest of the season). Of course, Gray was punished for showing up late to a practice in between these two games. With Blount suspended for Week 1, however, Gray should (operative word: should) get the largest share of early-down carries against the Steelers in Week 1.
James White451941.412760.437.8
Brandon Bolden351371.8735028
Travaris Cadet832010670.412.3

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Julian Edelman879615.98520.1137.3
2013 seemed to be a perfect storm for Edelman as he was surrounded by other first-year receivers (either rookies or free agents) and Rob Gronkowski missed more than half of the season due to injury. After his breakout 2013 season (105/1,056/6), however, Edelman actually averaged slightly more receptions (6.57 in 2014 vs. 6.56 in 2013) and yards (69.43 in 2014 vs. 66.0 in 2013). A solid WR2 in PPR formats, Edelman is in the low-end WR2/high-end WR3 range for standard-scoring leagues as well.
Brandon LaFell557435.62120109.1
In his first year with the Patriots, LaFell had his best NFL season, by far, as he set career highs in receptions (74), yards (953) and touchdowns (seven). As solid as LaFell's overall numbers were, there was plenty of weekly inconsistency as he had four weekly top-12 finishes but he finished outside the top-36 eight times. The possibility of starting the season on reserve/PUP (and missing at least the team's first six games) threatens his ability to repeat last year's career numbers.
Aaron Dobson253433.200053.5
Danny Amendola343432.912051.9
Reggie Wayne303542.700051.6
It's been a highly productive NFL career for Wayne (1,070 receptions for 14,345 yards -- top eight all-time in both categories) and it will be weird seeing him in a Patriots uniform, but Wayne turns 37 years old in November and he averaged a career-low 12.2 Y/R last season with only 51.9 yards per game, his lowest since 2002.

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Rob Gronkowski84120112.5195.1
When it comes to fantasy tight ends, he's in a tier all by himself. Named the 2014 AP Comeback Player of the Year after two injury-plagued seasons, Gronkowski posted an 82/1,124/12 stat line over 15 games. Scoring 184.4 fantasy points, Gronk had 30.3 points (or 19.66 percent) more than Antonio Gates, who had the second-most among tight ends. Not only dominant over a full season, but Gronk was consistent as well finishing as a top-five weekly scorer at the position in eight of 15 games and a top-11 scorer in all but two games.
Scott Chandler8911.618.7
Michael Hoomanawanui2240.23.6

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Minnesota Vikings

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Minnesota Vikings:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Teddy Bridgewater361536419226.413.4542351.2290.58
Bridgewater improved throughout his rookie season, which is something you always want to see with a young quarterback. All four of his games with a completion percentage of at least 70 percent occurred within the final five games of the season. In addition, Bridgewater posted a 1:5 TD-to-INT ratio in his first four games but improved to a 13:7 TD-to-INT ratio for the remainder of the season. With the attention that Adrian Peterson commands from opposing defenses, it should open up the passing offense for Bridgewater in year two. Bridgewater looked sharp this preseason as he completed 82.9 percent (29 of 35) of his pass attempts.

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Adrian Peterson298135612.2402861243.4
One of the league's all-time best running backs, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards back just a couple of seasons ago coming of a torn ACL. Assuming that he plays all 16 games (or close to it), the 30-year-old Peterson should finish as a top-three (or better) fantasy back in 2015.
Jerick McKinnon753491.6322340.470.3
When McKinnon was on the field last year, he was productive (4.76 YPC) and he averaged 16.38 touches per game from Weeks 4 to 12 before missing the rest of the year due to injury. McKinnon's volume of work won't approach anything close to 16 touches per game with Adrian Peterson back as the team's workhorse.
Matt Asiata361302.114890.336.3

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Charles Johnson7310295.8000137.7
Possessing an impressive combination of size (6-2, 225) and athleticism (sub-4.4 forty), Johnson was reunited with Norv Turner in Minnesota after being released by the receiver-deficient Browns last offseason. In the final six games of the season, Johnson was on the field for all but 19 of the team's offensive snaps. And over his final seven games, Johnson posted 25 receptions for 415 yards and two touchdowns. With a full offseason and the continued development of second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Johnson should pick up where he left off last season.
Mike Wallace588767.2180131.6
The Dolphins certainly had some buyer's remorse after signing him to a big free-agent contract two offseasons ago and traded him to the Vikings this offseason. Wallace has three consecutive mediocre seasons of less than 1,000 yards and has averaged just 13.1, 12.7 and 12.9 Y/R over the past three seasons, respectively. Perhaps the change of scenery and Norv Turner's vertical-passing attack will help Wallace live up to his potential and exceed my projection for him.
Cordarrelle Patterson293282.4141471.570.9
Jarius Wright364902.2436065.8
Stefon Diggs91180.300013.6

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Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Kyle Rudolph495155.483.9
Rudolph has failed to reach double-digit games in each of the past two seasons. While he has the potential to excel in the red zone (nine touchdowns in 2012), Rudolph has just five touchdowns in 17 games over the past two years. While Norv Turner runs a tight end-friendly offense, Rudolph actually posted three-year lows on a per-game basis in receptions (2.67/G) and receiving yards (25.7/G) in his only season with Turner.
MyCole Pruitt212271.431.1

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2015 Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft: Round 5

Here are Round 5 results of our 2015 Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft:

5.01 - Sean Beazley (Team I): Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins

Among rookies, only his ex-LSU teammate Odell Beckham (91) had more receptions than Landry (84) last season. Over the final nine games of the season, Landry had a minimum of five receptions every game and racked up a total of 59 catches over that span. In addition, he had at least nine targets in six of his final eight games. Better in PPR formats, Landry, the WR23 in this mock, should improve upon his 84/758/5 rookie numbers.

5.02 - Brendan Donahue (Team I): Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

After a boost in playing time down the stretch and a strong offseason, all signs pointed to Adams taking a step forward in year two. That said, no player benefits more the ACL injury to Jordy Nelson (from a fantasy perspective) than Adams, who finished with 38/446/3 numbers as a rookie, as he enters the starting lineup in two-WR sets.

5.03 - Kevin Hanson (Team I): Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

Kelce played only 52.3 percent of the team's offensive snaps from Weeks 1 to 10, but that percentage jumped to 86.7 percent from Weeks 11 to 17. Despite his snap-count limits during the first half of the season, Kelce still finished with 67 receptions, 862 yards and five touchdowns and the sixth-most fantasy points (PPR formats) among tight ends last season. With good health, the sky is the limit for Kelce in 2015.

5.04 - Kevin Hanson (Team II): Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

A top-three fantasy quarterback in 2014, Wilson rushed for 849 yards and six touchdowns, both of which were career highs, and netted fantasy owners an average of 7.56 fantasy points per game from rushing stats alone. While he won't post gaudy passing statistics in Seattle's run-dominant offense, Wilson is the first quarterback in league history to throw 20-plus touchdowns with 10 or fewer interceptions in each of his first three NFL seasons, per Pro Football Reference. Wilson's volume of pass attempts may not spike in 2015, but the Seahawks pulled off a blockbuster trade for tight end Jimmy Graham, which significantly upgrades the team's weapons in the red zone.

5.05 - Dan Yanotchko (Team I): Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions

At only 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, Abdullah may lack the ideal size to be a bellcow back, but he has been impressive in both offseason workouts and the preseason. In addition, Abdullah posted three consecutive 1,100-yard seasons including back-to-back 1,600-yard campaigns at Nebraska. Among running backs at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, Abdullah finished first in the vertical jump (42.5 inches), broad jump (10-10), 3-cone drill (6.79) and 20-yard shuttle (3.95). Abdullah should begin the season behind Joique Bell on the depth chart, but his role within the offense should expand as the season progresses.

5.06 - Dan Yanotchko (Team II): Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

After sitting out all of 2013 with a torn ACL, Maclin returned to the Eagles on a one-year deal and posted a career-best season (85/1,318/10) in Chip Kelly's offense. He then parlayed that success into a massive five-year deal to reunite with his former coach.

While the transition from Kelly's up-tempo offense to one with a quarterback that rarely challenges defenses down the field isn't a positive, the Chiefs have made a concerted effort to get the ball in Maclin's hands during the preseason. As an example, Maclin had seven catches for 65 yards and a score in the Week 3 preseason dress rehearsal.

5.07 - Sean Beazley (Team II): Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The good news is that Jackson eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth consecutive season and sixth time in the past seven years -- the exception was his holdout-shortened 2010 season. The bad news is V-Jax had just two touchdowns, the lowest of his career since his three-catch rookie season (2005). Jackson should score more touchdowns in 2015, but the 32-year-old receiver is clearly the No. 2 receiver to Mike Evans.

5.08 - Sean Beazley (Team III): Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

Manning finished the year as the QB4 (312.68 fantasy points) behind Rodgers (354.14), Luck (350.74) and Wilson (327.6). In the first 11 games of the season, Manning averaged 23.96 fantasy points per game (323.45 YPG, 34 TDs and nine INTs). In the final five games of the season, however, he averaged just 9.83 FPPG (233.8 YPG, five TDs and six INTs) and never scored more than 13.02 fantasy points in any of those games. Much of the decline can be attributed to last year's thigh injury, but Manning's passing production also tends to slow as the weather turns colder. In a more balanced offense with some issues on the offensive line, it's possible that Manning fails to produce a top-five fantasy season.

5.09 - Brendan Donahue (Team II): C.J. Spiller, RB, New Orleans Saints

While Spiller may never rush for 1,000 yards again, Payton and the Saints coaching staff should maximize his production on a per-touch basis. Since Payton took over in New Orleans in 2006, the Saints have roughly one-third (six of 19) of the 70-reception seasons by running backs and Spiller figures to lead the backfield in receptions. One concern entering the season, however, is Spiller's recent arthroscopic knee surgery, but the expectation has been that he will be ready for Week 1.

5.10 - Brendan Donahue (Team III): T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Selected with a top-36 pick in this year's draft, Yeldon has excellent size (6-1, 225) and goes to the front of the line in terms of the team's backfield depth chart. General manager David Caldwell said that he sees Yeldon as "a three-down back." Playing in an offense that ranked in the bottom two in both scoring and total offense last year could limit Yeldon's fantasy upside as a rookie, but he could end up leading rookie backs in touches in 2015.

5.11 - Kevin Hanson (Team III): Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills

The fourth overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, Watkins finished his rookie campaign with 65 receptions for 982 yards and six touchdowns. While Watkins had four 100-yard games including a career-high 157 yards against his new head coach's former team, he also had nine games with 35 receiving yards or less. In a run-first offense with a less-than-ideal quarterback situation, there will still be plenty of weekly inconsistency from Watkins, but his overall numbers should improve on a year-over-year basis and has some upside as the WR27 in this mock.

5.12 - Dan Yanotchko (Team III): Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins

Morris averaged a career-low 4.1 YPC last season, but he rushed 265 times for 1,074, respectable numbers but also career lows, and eight touchdowns. Washington's offensive line struggled last year, but the team used the fifth-overall pick on Brandon Scherff and the addition of Bill Callahan to the coaching staff is certainly a positive for the team's offensive line play and rushing attack overall.

> Continue to Round 6 of our PPR Fantasy Football Mock Draft

View earlier rounds:
> Go back to Round 1 of our PPR Fantasy Football Mock Draft
> Go back to Round 2 of our PPR Fantasy Football Mock Draft
> Go back to Round 3 of our PPR Fantasy Football Mock Draft
> Go back to Round 4 of our PPR Fantasy Football Mock Draft

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Updated 2015 Fantasy Football Projections: Denver Broncos

In addition to viewing our 2015 Fantasy Football Projections by position, we have posted our preseason projections per team.

Below you find our 2015 fantasy football projections for the Denver Broncos:

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Peyton Manning387586460237.514.728-140.2319.18
Manning finished the year as the QB4 (312.68 fantasy points) behind Rodgers (354.14), Luck (350.74) and Wilson (327.6). In the first 11 games of the season, Manning averaged 23.96 fantasy points per game (323.45 YPG, 34 TDs and nine INTs). In the final five games of the season, however, he averaged just 9.83 FPPG (233.8 YPG, five TDs and six INTs) and never scored more than 13.02 fantasy points in any of those games. Much of the decline can be attributed to last year's thigh injury, but Manning's passing production also tends to slow as the weather turns colder. In a more balanced offense with some issues on the offensive line, it's possible that Manning fails to produce a top-five fantasy season.
Brock Osweiler59590.20.22203.16

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Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
C.J. Anderson290133410.2362811.8233.5
From Week 10 to 17 last year, Anderson finished as a top-five fantasy running back in six of eight games. In the other two games, he was still very productive as the RB10 and RB16 for those given weeks. With a new coaching staff entering 2015, CJA is set to begin the season in a featured-back role. In his mailbag column, Troy Renck of the Denver Post projects Anderson to average 18 carries per game as the team's "bellcow" and to "roll for 1,400 yards."
Ronnie Hillman883783.2282030.479.7
Hillman had a couple of very productive games last season and he has a shot to earn the RB2 role behind Anderson. Worth a flier in the final rounds of drafts, Hillman has garnered praise from head coach Gary Kubiak this preseason.
Juwan Jamison422021.58600.135.8
Montee Ball24980.94290.118.7
Three different Broncos running backs had more than 20 touches in a game last season -- Ball (Week 1), Ronnie Hillman (Weeks 6 and 8) and C.J. Anderson (Weeks 12 through 16). Not only is CJA the clear favorite for the featured role under new head coach Gary Kubiak, but Ball appears to be fighting for a roster spot as he's dropped to fourth on the depth chart. Averaging just 3.13 yards per carry in the regular season last year, Ball has gained just 2.1 YPC on his 32 preseason carries.

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Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Demaryius Thomas99142311.8000213.1
Despite his slow start, Thomas reached the 100-yard mark in 10 of his final 13 games and finished with a full-season stat line of 111 catches and 1,619 yards, both of which were career highs, and 11 touchdowns. A fourth consecutive year of 90-plus receptions, 1,400-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns seems like a strong possibility with Peyton Manning back for (at least) one more year.
Emmanuel Sanders779937.45330147
In his first season with the Broncos, Sanders blew his previous career highs out of the water. With previous career highs set in 2013 of 67/740/6, Sanders finished with 101 receptions for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns. The Broncos offense will be more balanced this season, but Sanders is a solid mid-tier WR2 option heading into 2015.
Cody Latimer405406.100090.6
As a rookie, Latimer played just 37 offensive snaps and had just two receptions for 23 yards on four targets. Two of the team's top pass-catchers -- Wes Welker and Julius Thomas -- have departed via free agency. Going into his second season, Latimer should see a big bump in snaps as Emmanuel Sanders could move inside in three-WR sets and Latimer has plenty of upside.
Andre Caldwell161731.300025.1
Jordan Taylor7880.500011.8

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